October 20, 2015 — Lawsuits involving 237 women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder products have been sent back to state court in St. Louis, Missouri after Johnson & Johnson lost a bid to transfer the litigation into federal court.
Reuters reports that J&J argued that the cases were “mass actions,” but federal judges disagreed.
In an order (PDF) issued October 14, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry decided that the cases must stay in state court where they were originally filed because plaintiffs’ counsel never formally sought consolidation at the federal level.
Judge Perry wrote that there was no reason to assume the cases would go to trial together even if they were on the same docket:
“Johnson & Johnson would have me conclude that plaintiffs’ ‘true purpose’ here was to seek a joint trial of their cases based on nothing more than parallel dates submitted in three separate proposed scheduling plans without any explanation of what these proposed dates actually mean. This I cannot do.”
All of the lawsuits involve Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products, which contain talcum powder. Since the 1970s, studies have suggested that talcum powder used in the perineal area for hygiene can lead to ovarian cancer.
In October 2013, a jury ruled in favor of a 56 year-old woman from South Dakota who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Shower-to-Shower every day for 30 years. However, the jury did not award damages.
In May 2015, a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s “Cashmere Bouquet” talcum powder was awarded nearly $13 million by a jury in Los Angeles. The 73 year-old plaintiff used the asbestos-containing talcum powder product from 1961-1976.
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