CVN’s Top July Cosmetic Talc Headline Highlights

Posted by David Siegel on Jul 26, 2019 11:52:48 AM


Check out CVN at the end of each month for a bird’s eye view of the latest developments in the cosmetic talc trials being webcast by CVN along with other major recent news in talc-related litigation

Two talc/mesothelioma trials underway in Kentucky and New Jersey 

CVN is currently webcasting two cosmetic talc trials, one in Johnson & Johnson’s hometown of New Brunswick, New Jersey and the other in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The New Jersey case, which involves J&J’s products, is the first consolidated talc/meso trial with four plaintiffs having their claims heard simultaneously. 

The trial in Kentucky is the first in the state and just the second trial to include both J&J and Colgate-Palmolive as defendants. 

Update Friday 8/2 - The Kentucky jury returned a defense verdict for J&J and Colgate.

Experts vetted in federal talc MDL as Daubert hearing gets underway

A Daubert hearing began Monday in New Jersey federal court, where nearly 11,000 of the 14,000 pending talc-related lawsuits throughout the country have been consolidated. 

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson spent the last week hearing argument over which witnesses and what testimony would be permitted in future trials - a key issue given the vehement disagreement between talc defendants and plaintiff attorneys over the scientific basis for alleged links between talc powder exposure and ovarian cancer. 

The federal MDL consists of cases involving ovarian-cancer related claims. There have been no state court trials involving ovarian cancer talc claims since last summer, but the next one is scheduled for September in Georgia state court. 

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J&J loses bid to consolidate 2400 talc cases in Delaware federal court 

A federal district judge shot down J&J’s efforts to transfer thousands of cosmetic talc lawsuits to Delaware on July 19, rejecting the company’s arguments the cases should be consolidated because of the pending bankruptcy proceedings of J&J’s talc supplier in the same jurisdiction. 

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled that J&J failed to demonstrate how the bankruptcy of Imerys Talc America would affect pending talc/mesothelioma claims in state court, even though Imerys had been a defendant in many of those cases.

Numerous other federal judges already rejected J&J’s attempts to remove individual talc cases to federal courts, but Judge Noreika’s ruling means that pending an appeal of her order the vast majority of upcoming talc trials will take place in state courts, with a number of trials already scheduled for the coming months. 

California appeals court orders new trial after $417 million ovarian talc verdict

Earlier this month a California appeals court ordered a new trial in a talc case that previously ended in a $417 million verdict, among the largest talc verdicts nationwide and the largest to date by far in California. The original trial, which took place in 2017, was webcast and recorded by CVN. 

Plaintiff Eva Echeverria’s lawsuit was the first involving J&J’s cosmetic talc products to go to trial in California. While the appeals court sustained a finding by the jury that J&J failed to adequately warn Echeverria about supposed health risks associated with talc powder, they found a new trial is warranted due to conflicting evidence presented at trial about the links between talc exposure and cancer. 

Plaintiff’s death scuttles punitive phase of California talc trial

The punitive damages phase of a California woman’s talc/mesothelioma lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson won’t go forward this month as planned after she passed away on the eve of opening statements. 

Patricia Schmitz’s case already ended with a $12 million compensatory verdict weeks earlier in a trial that was webcast and recorded by CVN, but the presiding judge ordered a new trial on punitive damages with a new jury after the previous jury became hung on the question, a decision believed to be a first in a cosmetic talc case. 

Schmitz’s case was just the second trial involving J&J’s talc products in Alameda County, a key hub for asbestos litigation, and the first trial in the country involving both J&J and Colgate.

Upcoming talc/meso trials scheduled in California, Connecticut and Georgia

After delays caused by numerous removals to federal court of J&J talc trials and subsequent remands, state courts have resumed scheduling talc cases for new trials after the vacating of previous trial dates.

In August a talc/meso case filed against J&J by plaintiff Carolyn Weirick will go to trial, after an initial trial last year (also recorded by CVN) ended in a mistrial. The Weirick case is likely to be consolidated at trial with another talc case removed to federal court on the eve of trial, in a possible sign that courts could begin to increasingly rely on consolidation to adjudicate a rapidly growing body of talc claims. 

Another J&J talc case is set for trial in September in Connecticut, and will be the first such trial in the state if it goes forward. 

A trial involving ovarian cancer-related claims against J&J is set to begin in early September in Georgia. This will be the first talc case to go to trial in Georgia, and the first ovarian cancer case to go to trial since a $4.6 billion verdict last summer in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Along with our monthly talc news roundup, make sure to check out CVN's Video Library, where numerous talc/asbestos cases are among the hundreds of civil jury trials available for just $99/month.

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Topics: Products Liability