Johnson & Johnson (J&J) faces thousands of baby powder lawsuits across the country. Currently, cases are being consolidated in various courts, including litigations in New Jersey and Missouri and a coordinated docket in California. Recently added to the list is a new baby powder lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania.
U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney recently ruled that a lawsuit filed against J&J and its talc supplier, Imerys, could proceed in Philadelphia court. The lawsuit alleges both J&J and Imerys were grossly negligent in failing to warn consumers that the talc in J&J’s baby powder products could cause ovarian cancer when used around the groin.
This is bad news for both J&J and Imerys, who struggle to get a hold of mounting baby powder cancer lawsuits. So far, J&J has lost all four baby powder cases that went to trial, three of which resulted in multimillion-dollar damage awards for the plaintiffs.
The last baby powder trial, which concluded October, was a sobering one not just for J&J, but for Imerys as well. In the first three baby powder trials, Imerys was not found responsible for the plaintiffs’ injuries; however, this was not the case in the fourth trial.
The jury found Imerys partially liable and ordered the company to pay the plaintiff several million dollars. This could be the beginning of a costly litigation for Imerys, but it’s doubtful J&J will let them throw in the towel. Because both companies are named defendants in the lawsuits, one company agreeing to settle cases rather than take them to trial could have huge implications for the other defendant.
Both companies could face tens of thousands of lawsuits due to the widespread popularity of J&J’s baby powder products. The next baby powder trial is scheduled for July 2017 and could be the turning point for the companies.