Federal Judge Clears Way For Talc Lawsuits

  •  verdict

On Monday, the U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson issued an opinion, rejecting the efforts made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to exclude plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony, allowing more than 17,000 talcum lawsuits to proceed further.

According to the 141-page opinion issued, Judge Wolfson determined that expert opinions offered by plaintiffs are sufficiently reliable and sound. J&J always defended the safety of its widely used talc-based products, arguing that general causation experts should be prevented from testifying at the trial.

Before scheduling the cases for trial, the judge listened to the challenges faced by the parties for the admittance of expert witness testimony under the federal Daubert standard, which requires that the opinions meet an evidentiary standard to ensure they are reliable enough to present to a jury.

Some of the opinions have also been limited that may be presented by the plaintiffs’ experts. Only general causation testimony that the talcum powder can cause cancer based on epidemiological studies will be allowed.

On February 27, a Miami jury ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay a Florida-based woman $9 million after finding that their talc-based product caused the woman's mesothelioma. The verdict is considered to be the first in the Sunshine State.

According to the jury, J&J was negligent and sold a defective product, which contained asbestos. The plaintiff will receive $3 million for past medical expenses and $6 million for past and future pain and suffering.

Two days ago, attorneys for J&J and the plaintiff, a 62-year-old woman who had alleged that asbestos in its baby powder caused her mesothelioma, reached settlement bringing a halt to the trial that was underway and had completed opening statements.

Johnson's Baby Powder, one of the most popular products containing talcum powder, is linked to increasing a woman's risk of ovarian cancer if she uses it regularly in the genital area. In a few cases, the cancer tissue was studied using an electron microscope and was found to have talc in it, which supported the claim that the cancer was caused by the body powder and increases the talc-related cancer risk.

Also, Earlier this month, during a different trial, a New Brunswick, New Jersey, jury hit J&J with $750 million in punitive damages, which was immediately reduced to $186 million due to a state cap on punitive damages.

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