Baby powder lawsuits have been filed across the country and healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) already faces more than 1,000 lawsuits with tens of thousands of claims still being investigated. Because the potential number of lawsuits will only grow, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear arguments later this month to determine if the cases should be consolidated into multidistrict litigation and what venue is appropriate.
A multidistrict litigation (MDL) has its benefits. If granted, the MDL would consolidate baby powder claims to one federal district court, which would help make the resolution of cases more efficient.
The stakes are high for Johnson & Johnson who has not been successful in previous baby powder trials. The first talc side effects trial in 2013 laid the groundwork for the litigation. The plaintiff, Deane Berg, developed ovarian cancer after decades of baby powder use. A jury determined J&J was grossly negligent in its failure to warn consumers of the risks associated with its baby powder products.
The next two talcum powder trials concluded this past February and May. Both juries found J&J negligent and awarded millions in damages. The cases also brought to light internal documents that showed J&J knew about the link between the talc in its baby powder products and ovarian cancer, but developed marketing strategies to combat growing concerns.
Despite over 20 epidemiological studies confirming the link between the talc in baby powder and ovarian cancer, J&J maintains its products are safe. The company has also stated it will continue to defend the safety of its baby powder products in upcoming trials, despite being unsuccessful so far.
The next talcum powder ovarian cancer trial is scheduled to begin later this month, with another one beginning in mid October. The outcome of these lawsuits will have huge implication for the baby powder litigation.