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.
Many of the estimated 16,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits in federal court alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the presence of deadly asbestos fibers in its talc-based products but provided no warnings to consumers about the risks. Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals and can be found side by side one other. If companies mining and processing talc do not take precautions to prevent cross contamination, innocent consumers may be seriously harmed by asbestos exposure.
With the New Jersey federal judge’s favorable Daubert ruling, the plaintiffs have overcome a major obstacle to having their day in court. Thus far, only juries in state courts have heard cases involving victims who alleged they developed cancer as a result of using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.
Juries in Missouri, New Jersey, and California have awarded over $5 billion in total compensation to dozens of victims and surviving family members who claim Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower were the cause of their mesothelioma cancer. While Johnson & Johnson has been inclined to settle few cases, the ruling in federal court could potentially change the company’s legal strategy and consider resolutions outside of court to compensate victims and end litigation.
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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment and to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.