J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

(June 14, 2018)  A J&J talc supplier has agreed to pay at least $5 million to settle 22 ovarian cancer law suits, Reuters reported last week.  Imerys Talc America supplied Johnson & Johnson with talc for its Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder products. Imery’s has agreed to the reported $5 million figure in order to settle a talcum powder lawsuit filed by 22 women.

The women all allege they developed ovarian cancer from regular, repeated use of J&J talc-based powders for feminine hygiene.  Their lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson is being heard now in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis.  Bloomberg News reported that Imerys agreed to the settlement just before the trial began.  A company spokesperson confirmed the agreement.

No Fault for Imery’s
Imerys has not admitted fault for any of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The company continues to deny its talc was tainted with asbestos, as does Johnson & Johnson.  No exact settlement terms will be made public.

Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Verdicts
Johnson & Johnson and Imerys are named in more than 9,000 lawsuits which allege talc used to make Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower was tainted with asbestos. Lawsuit petitions all state that the talc caused regular users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Mesothelioma Trials
A California jury ordered J&J and its talcum suppliers – including Imerys – to pay a woman $27.1 million for her claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma. The jury also added $4 million in punitive damages. It found J&J acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.

In April 2018, a New Jersey’s jury in Middlesex County Superior Court awarded a man $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages. He had alleged his life-long Baby Powder use was the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma. The jury found J&J and Imery’s Talc 70% and 30% liable (respectively) for damages incurred by the plaintiff and his wife.

Johnson & Johnson prevailed in a California mesothelioma trial that concluded in November 2017, but it has lost other talcum-mesothelioma cancer lawsuits.

A third California case was declared a mistrial in May 2018, and a recent South Carolina talc-meso trial was also declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Verdicts
Plaintiffs have won four and lost two talc-cancer verdicts in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court.

•  February 2016: A jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and Imerys to pay $72 million* to the family  of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer.
•   May 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman.
•   June 27, 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $70 million to California woman.
•   March 2017: A jury founds in favor of J&J against a Tennessee woman.
•   May 2017: J&J and Imerys were ordered to pay $110.5 million to a Virginia woman.**

*The $72 million verdict was later dismissed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The high court held that a plaintiff must file suit where defendants are headquartered or else in the state where the plaintiff was injured.

**J&J challenged the $110 million verdict, but it was upheld. The trial court ruled jurisdiction was appropriate because J&J had used a Missouri-based company to label, package and distribute.

J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson is appealing the other four Missouri verdicts.  There has also been a concerted PR campaign from industry quarters to attack the Missouri court as unfairly favorable to plaintiffs.

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