Thousands get go-ahead for talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson

A massive lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson will be able to go ahead after a judge ruled that certain testimony could be heard.

The company faces accusations that its baby powder and talc products were contaminated with asbestos, causing ovarian cancer.

There are around 16,000 talc-related lawsuits in the US, most of them before District Judge Freda Wolfson of New Jersey.

And it was Judge Wolfson who ruled on Monday that the New Jersey plaintiffs could go ahead with their claims, although there will be limits on what expert testimony will be permitted.

Johnson & Johnson had tried to stop the plaintiffs’ experts from testifying, which would have effectively put a stop to the case.

Leigh O’Dell, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said: “We’re very pleased.

“The decision states, in a nutshell, that plaintiffs’ general causation experts are going to be able to testify that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer.”

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Plaintiffs will be able to have experts testify that the talc products caused cancer based on epidemiological studies and that the link could be caused by contamination with asbestos and heavy metals.

They will also be able to testify that talc can reach the ovaries when used vaginally but will not be able to say that it can travel to the ovaries if inhaled.

Johnson & Johnson denies its talc causes cancer and says that numerous studies support its claims.

The company said in a statement that Monday’s decision was “not a determination by the court on the validity of the plaintiffs’ allegations”.

It also said that previous verdicts in favour of plaintiffs had been overturned when they went through the appeals process.

Johnson & Johnson is currently appealing a record $4.69bn (£3.7bn) verdict against it in St Louis, Missouri. That trial involved 22 plaintiffs in July 2018.

There is also a federal criminal investigation into how honest Johnson & Johnson was about the safety of its talc products.

Talcum powder absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes.

It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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