Judge Declares Mistrial in Johnson & Johnson Talc Mesothelioma Trial

Categories: Talc Cancer Lawsuits

On Tuesday, California Judge, C. Edward Simpson, granted a mistrial in the first lawsuit to go to trial over claims that Johnson & Johnson’s popular talc-based hygiene products can cause mesothelioma, a deadly cancer generally linked to asbestos exposure. (Prior trials have concerned ovarian cancer.) The Judge declared a mistrial because witness testimony referenced ovarian cancer (which was prohibited by a pre-trial ruling). A new jury will be selected. The case is Tina Herford et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number BC646315, consolidated in LAOSD Asbestos Cases, case number JCCP4674, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Prior to this trial, in August, 2017, a Los Angeles jury awarded $417 million (including $347 million in punitive damages meant to punish the company) to a 62 year old woman, Eva Echeverria who developed ovarian cancer after using its talc-based products for feminine hygiene. (Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, BC628228, Los Angeles County Superior Court.) Specially, the lawsuit, (along with thousands of others filed across the country), alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known that perineal use of its talcum powder products can cause ovarian cancer in women, but failed to provide adequate instructions and warnings with respect to the products.

Four earlier juries in St. Louis also returned verdicts of $110 million, $70 million, $72 million and $55 million. In February 2016, a jury awarded $72 million for the family of Jackie Fox. Ms. Fox lived in Birmingham, Alabama and claimed she used the products for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years. Three years prior she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died on October 2015 at age 62. The family of Ms. Fox argued that Johnson and Johnson knew of the risk, but failed to warn customers, such as Ms. Fox.  The jury agreed.

Similarly, in May 2016, a jury in St. Louis awarded $55 million in damages to Gloria Ristesund, a woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene more than 35 years before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In October, 2016, a St. Louis jury awarded a California woman, Deborah Giannecchini, $70.075 million in her lawsuit alleging that years of using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused her cancer.  In May, 2017, a jury to pay over $110 million to a Virginia woman, Lois Slemp, who developed ovarian cancer after decades of using of its talc-based products for feminine hygiene.

In each of these cases the juries all agreed that Johnson and Johnson knew of its talc-based products’ cancer risks, but failed to warn consumers such as Ms. Ristesund, Ms. Giannecchini, Ms. Slemp, and Ms. Echeverria.

Johnson & Johnson is facing litigation across the country. On October 4, 2016, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order transferring additional federal cases alleging that women developed cancer following use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products (namely Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder) to U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. (MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation) 

A MDL is a type of legal proceeding that helps federal courts efficiently manage many similar cases filed in many different courts across the U.S. by allowing the temporary transfer of all of the federal civil lawsuits to one or more district courts for pretrial consolidation or coordination. The JPML is a group of federal judges designated by the Chief Justice of the United States, which has the responsibility for determining which cases qualify for MDL treatment, as well as which district court to transfer and consolidate these cases. The transfers are made if the Panel determines that the transfers will result in the convenience of the parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of the cases. (For more information about MDLs and the JPML, contact Borgess Law.)

How We Can Help:

Borgess Law, LLC is currently accepting talc powder cancer cases. If you or someone you know used baby powder, Shower to Shower, or other talc-based products and was diagnosed with ovarian, mesdothelioma or other types of cancer, feel free to contact Consumer Product Litigation Attorney Pamela A. Borgess of Borgess Law, LLC at (567) 455-5955 or toll-free at (844) LAW-9144. You can also contact Borgess Law by submitting an online inquiry. Borgess Law never charges a fee for an initial consultation.