A New Jersey federal judge recently handed down an important ruling which will allow thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits to proceed against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiffs lawsuits allege that they developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, as a result of exposure to deadly asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson products such as the company’s iconic Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
An estimated 16,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits had been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before the federal judge in a process in which she would make rulings on common discovery which would apply to each individual case. At issue was the expert testimony of eight witnesses put forth by the plaintiffs’ lawyers set to testify about how exposure to talc and asbestos can cause cancer based on epidemiological studies. Johnson & Johnson had sought to block the testimony of the experts by calling for a “Daubert” motion.
Fortunately for the plaintiffs, the judge conducting the evidentiary hearings determined that the experts may testify to certain areas of expertise. Had the judge ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor, it is likely that the plaintiffs would not have been able to carry on with their lawsuits to trial where victims could present evidence of the causal relationship between their exposure to talc and asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products and their development of cancer.