Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Talc Cancer Suits Consolidated in District of New Jersey // NJ Law Journal

Talc Cancer Suits Consolidated in District of New Jersey // NJ Law Journal
by Charles Toutant

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has picked New Jersey as the site to consolidate suits nationwide linking cancer to usage of talcum powder.
The Oct. 4 order transferred 11 pending cases and 43 more potential actions from around the country to U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson of the District of New Jersey. Wolfson presides over Chakalos v. Johnson & Johnson, which was filed in November 2014, making it the most advanced suit of its kind in the nation. Her experience with that case makes her well-situated to structure the litigation to minimize delay and avoid duplication of discovery and motion practice, the panel said. Furthermore, New Jersey is the best venue for the suits because it is home to Johnson & Johnson, a defendant in the litigation, so that relevant witnesses and evidence are likely located in the state, the panel said.
New Jersey was selected even though most plaintiffs who supported consolidation—those in nine cases—wanted the suits heard in the Southern District of Illinois, where two of the suits were filed. Plaintiffs in 12 cases opposed centralization. Johnson & Johnson and several other defendants proposed consolidation in the District of New Jersey or the Western District of Oklahoma.
The suits seek compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death that resulted from ovarian or uterine cancer in women who applied talcum powder to their genital area and for failure to warn of the risk of cancer. Some of the suits claim researchers have linked talc to cancer since the 1960s. The suits say manufacturers represented talcum powder as safe, failed to warn that it may cause cancer, and marketed the product to women with ads encouraging them to use such products to mask odors.
In addition to Johnson & Johnson, defendants include Sanofi US, Imerys Talc, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Chattem. The plaintiffs used products such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, Shower to Shower and Gold Bond. Shower to Shower was previously made by Johnson & Johnson but recently sold to Valeant; Gold Bond was made by Chattem, which was acquired by Sanofi in 2010. Imerys mined the talc in the products, plaintiffs claim.

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