A federal judge recently denied a request by pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to transfer thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits from various state courts under one single federal court. The move comes after Johnson & Johnson’s one-time co-defendant and talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, declared bankruptcy in the face of an estimated 14,000 other asbestos cancer lawsuits filed against the pair over allegations the two produced carcinogenic talc-based products for decades.
Johnson & Johnson had asked a Delaware federal district court judge to transfer some 2,400 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits to her court in the wake of co-defendant Imerys filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Had Johnson & Johnson been granted the motion, the company would have been able to conduct common discovery on the asbestos cancer lawsuits under a unified jurisdiction, potentially giving the company more leverage to settle or otherwise resolve the claims.
“The judges in the states who are already handling these cases are better suited to hear the claims before them than is this Court, which would have to hear thousands of cases and apply different state laws to each,” the federal judge said. The judge’s ruling noted her federal court did not have the authority over the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson due to the fact that the company’s co-defendant filed for bankruptcy in that court and that it failed to establish the lawsuits against it affect Imerys and the bankruptcy proceedings.
As a result of the judge’s ruling, Johnson & Johnson will now have to litigate thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits in dozens of individual state courts against plaintiffs who claim they developed mesothelioma and other serious health conditions as a result of using Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Since plaintiffs began filing suit and taking their cases to court, juries across the country have handed down over $5 billion in total compensation to dozens of plaintiffs for the harm suffered at the hands of Johnson & Johnson’s negligence.
Those talcum powder asbestos lawsuits claim Johnson & Johnson knowingly manufactured and sold asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products without providing any warning to consumers about the risks of using the products. Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals which can often be found in deposits side by side one another, creating the possibility of cross contamination if precautions and testing are not performed to ensure consumer safety.
One of the most serious health conditions connected with asbestos exposure is developing mesothelioma. The condition is a rare form of cancer commonly affecting the heart, lungs, and abdomen and can take decades before a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis is made.
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