Talcum Powder Lawsuit MDL Holds Status Conference
Both sides of talcum powder attorneys were involved in a status conference that took place today.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - A status conference has taken place in the talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits multidistrict litigation, which was consolidated in early October. The status conference will allow Johnson & Johnson's baby powder attorneys on both sides to present the status of their claims in other districts before the federal judge overseeing the MDL to help coordinate pretrial proceedings going forward. The status conference is one of the first procedural steps and MDL takes as it moves to help streamline the proceedings for the high number of similar claims normally consolidated into multidistrict litigation.
The plaintiffs in the talcum powder lawsuits claim that defendants Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America and Walgreens were all at fault in manufacturing and selling talcum powder that is allegedly linked to ovarian cancer. The plaintiffs have referenced a number of studies conducted as far back as 1973 that link talcum powder to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, and since that time more than 20 studies have been published in medical journals.
The studies have demonstrated that when used regularly, talcum powder can travel up a woman's vaginal tract to the ovaries, where they can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. Talcum powder used to contain asbestos until the FDA outlawed the ingredient in the powders in 1973. Plaintiffs claim however that talcum powder still has cancer-causing particles and its lack of regulation by the FDA has led to consumers around the country contracting ovarian cancer caused by their regular talcum powder use.
Citing the decades of studies performed investigating the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, the plaintiffs are claiming that the defendants failure to warn consumers of the potential dangers of the product was illegal. Some studies, including one performed by the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research, have found that regular talcum powder use by women can increase the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 30 percent. Plaintiffs claim that these risks were ignored by the manufacturers in an attempt to continue to market the product free of the deadly associations with cancer.
Lawsuits around the country have been filed on similar claims, with a majority of those suits occurring in New Jersey. The cases in New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson is headquartered, were recently requested to be consolidated before a single judge by the defendants as the number of claims were becoming excessive to litigate individually. More lawsuits are expected to be filed around the country as well as news of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer spreads.
The MDL has not yet filed any bellwether trials to be heard before the federal judge, though proceedings in both St. Louis and New Jersey that were already planned continue to move forward before their respective courts. The status conference will also likely start the process toward deciding which plaintiffs' cases will be heard as bellwether before the federal judge. Until that time, the outcome of the claims headed to trial elsewhere in the country will provide the best guess at the status of talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits going forward.