Talc litigation continues to move forward at a rapid pace and there have been a number of new developments this summer. I will briefly discuss some of them. On July 15, a Motion for Consolidation and Transfer was filed before the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), requesting consolidation of more than 20 talcum powder cases currently filed in federal court. Consolidation into multidistrict litigation relocates all cases pending in federal court to one venue for purposes of pre-trial discovery.
Our firm filed an objection to consolidation, contending that these cases are not proper for consolidation at this time. All parties to any pending federal talc case had the opportunity to file a brief in support of or in opposition to consolidation. In September, all interested parties will appear before the JPML and argue their respective positions on consolidation. Beasley Allen lawyers will attend oral arguments and present the reasons for our opposition to consolidation. Following the hearing, the Panel will issue an order either denying consolidation or consolidating and relocating all federal cases to one venue.
Kemp hearings began on Aug. 8, 2016, in Atlantic County, N.J. In Kemp v. State of New Jersey, 2002 WL 1901333, *12 (N.J. August 20, 2002), the Court chose not to adopt the more specific and rigorous criteria applied by the Supreme Court of the United States in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Atlantic County Judge Nelson Johnson required hearings after the defendants filed Kemp motions challenging plaintiffs’ experts even though a federal court has denied similar Daubert motions in another case and expert challenges in the two St. Louis cases that went to trial earlier this year.
During Kemp hearings, experts expected to testify at trial are questioned as to their qualifications and methodology since experts often provide vital testimony regarding causation, the mechanisms of harm, and other essential proofs. Both Plaintiff and Defense lawyers questioned numerous expert witnesses over the course of two weeks and made closing arguments on Aug. 19. A ruling is expected very soon.
On Sept. 26, 2016, Beasley Allen lawyers will travel back to St. Louis to begin the third trial against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys, the talc manufacturer that provides talcum powder to the Johnson & Johnson Defendants, on behalf of Deborah Giannecchini. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 when she was 59 years old. This came after she used Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene for more than 45 years.
You will recall we reported on the first two verdicts after two St. Louis juries found in favor of Jacqueline Fox and Gloria Ristesund as a result of their ovarian cancer being caused by the use of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Those verdicts came down in February and May of this year and totaled $72 million dollars – $62 million of which was punitive in nature – and $55 million dollars – $50 million of which was punitive in nature – respectively.
Additionally, there are more trials set for the end of this year and 2017. On Oct. 11, our talcum powder trial team will go to New Jersey to begin trial. Additional trials are set for January 2017 in both New Jersey and St. Louis, Mo., courts. Plaintiffs in the Talc litigation are being represented by Beasley Allen lawyers, along with Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm in Mississippi, and lawyers with the St. Louis firm of Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson. Lawyers with the Pennsylvania firm of Golomb & Honik and the D’Amato Law Firm in New Jersey are involved in the New Jersey case.
If you have any questions regarding these cases or any aspect of the litigation, contact Ted Meadows, who heads up our Talc Litigation Team, at Ted.Meadows@beasleyallen.com or 800-898-2034.
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