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Request to Centralize Talc Powder Lawsuits

talcum powderDefendants named in multiple talc body powder lawsuits have filed a formal request for case centralization. The defendants have asked that the lawsuits filed in New Jersey, which total over 100 with more than 156 plaintiffs, be consolidated into a multicounty litigation (MCL) in the Atlantic County Superior Court before Judge Nelson C. Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America, Inc., and the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), the defendants, filed their request on May 20, 2015 and the New Jersey court system announced the request on June 8. Any parties who wish to comment on the centralization request may do so by July 8.

Petition to coordinate talc cancer lawsuits

If the request is approved and the talc lawsuits are centralized into the MCL, all involved plaintiffs would still retain their right to an individual trial by jury. However, pretrial proceedings would be consolidated to streamline the process, and to avoid the possibility of duplicative discovery and contradictory rulings. Following pretrial discovery, a few early bellwether cases would go to trial. Their outcomes are not binding upon the rest of the lawsuits; however, these early trials allow all involved parties to assess how juries might typically respond to certain evidence and arguments. In coordinated proceedings, settlement arrangements are often forthcoming. However, any cases that are not settled will later be remanded back to their home districts for individual trials.

Allegations involve cancer and talcum powder

According to the plaintiffs who filed lawsuits with regard to talc body powder, products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Body Powder reportedly caused ovarian cancer in some women who used these products for perineal use. As the name implies, baby powder is typically sold for the skincare needs of infants. However, some adult women routinely apply the product to the genital area for hygiene purposes.

It has been suggested that the talc powder may migrate from the external genitalia through the vagina and to other reproductive structures, including the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. The plaintiffs believe that the talc powder has caused cancers of the reproductive system, including ovarian cancer.

They point to a June 2013 study published in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research. This study suggests that the perineal application of talc powder may involve a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer as compared to women who do not use the product.

It’s important to note that the overall risk of using talc powder products is slight, despite the results of the study. However, some plaintiffs who filed lawsuits suggested that the defendants should have conducted more extensive clinical research regarding the potential risks. Some have also expressed condemnation regarding the defendants’ alleged failure to provide adequate warnings about the potential link between talc and ovarian cancer. Currently, talc powder products only warn users to prevent the inhalation of the powder by children and to avoid its contact with the eyes.

To date, only one talc body powder lawsuit has been tried before a jury. In October 2013, a jury in South Dakota determined that sufficient evidence was available to associate Shower-to-Shower Body Powder with ovarian cancer that was diagnosed in a woman who routinely used the product for decades.