Johnson & Johnson discontinued its legacy talcum powder-based baby powder products in the United States and Canada after facing thousands of lawsuits alleging asbestos contamination and cancer risks. According to a Bloomberg news report, J&J said it had stopped shipping hundreds of talc-based items in the United States and Canada after coming to a “commercial decision” to discontinue them.
The company first began selling talcum powder products back in the 1890s. However, in recent years, since 2014, it has faced numerous product liability lawsuits, which accuse the company of hiding cancer risks linked to its talc-based version of the baby powder. Juries across the United States have hit the company with billions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages over their handling of these products.
Crucial Court Ruling
J&J’s decision comes after a significant court ruling about three weeks ago. After nine months of deliberation, Chief Justice Freda L. Wolfson released a 141-page opinion determining the fate of expert witnesses in the ongoing talc multidistrict litigation (MDL). The 16,000-lawsuit MDL against J&J over the safety of its talcum powder had hinged on the expert testimony of eight witnesses. Judge Wolfson sharply refuted J&J’s claims that the plaintiffs’ counsel intended to present “junk science,” and ruled that all five of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses would be permitted to testify.
This hearing, known as the “Daubert hearing,” delivers no opinion on the scientific accuracy of experts, but confirms their conclusions were reached with reliable methodology. Most notably, it significantly empowers plaintiffs’ ability to argue that J&J negligently sold them talcum powder tainted with asbestos, directly causing thousands of women to develop ovarian cancer. A “Daubert hearing” is essentially designed to allow courts to screen expert witnesses and prevent faulty science or junk science from entering the proceedings.
Talcum Powder and Cancer
Talc has long been the mainstay of powder and cosmetic products because the mineral keeps the skin dry. Talc mines can also yield asbestos, a mineral once used in products such as building insulation. Asbestos is also a known carcinogen and has been linked to cancers such as ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a tumor of the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs.
Our product defect law firm represents a number of people who have suffered the adverse health effects of talcum powder. We believe Johnson & Johnson sold these dangerous talcum powder products in spite of significant evidence that talc has been linked to cancer. We will not rest until our clients get justice for their tremendous losses and until Johnson & Johnson is held accountable.