NEW JERSEY – A federal judge is holding hearings for expert testimony in the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL). The hearings are part of an effort to determine whether certain experts and evidence should be excluded from the cases, and thereby, whether the plaintiffs’ cases can move forward.
The start of the hearings taking place in the MDL came on the heels of an announcement that the United States Department of Justice is investigating what Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos contamination in its talcum powder used for the signature Johnson’s Baby Powder. The company has maintained for decades that it has never used asbestos-tainted talc for its baby powder, but the DOJ is looking into the matter after reviewing documents brought to light during the course of litigation.
In lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder caused people to develop the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, counsel produced internal communications that show Johnson & Johnson scientists discussing the health risks of asbestos in the company’s talc. Johnson & Johnson says it is cooperating with the investigation, and it stands by the safety of its product
In the talcum powder MDL, plaintiffs are alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder led to their developing ovarian cancer, rather than mesothelioma. The plaintiffs claim that use of the powder in the genital area caused talc to travel to their ovaries and lead to cancerous tumors. U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson is overseeing the MDL and is in the process of hearing testimony from more than 20 experts on the cases.
The hearings are expected to last through July, and it is not clear how long it will take for the judge to make a decision about the future of the litigation. More than 10,000 cases are currently pending in the MDL.
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