At a critical hearing opening Monday, Johnson & Johnson will bring its case to reject thousands of lawsuits alleging its talc-based baby powder causing ovarian cancer.
The business is facing more than 14,000 lawsuits claiming ovarian cancer and mesothelioma triggered by its baby powder. A federal judge determines what evidence can and cannot be submitted to juries before the trial begins.
The method, known as a Daubert hearing, aims to guarantee that testimonies from expert witnesses are based on sound science. The pre-trial proceedings were consolidated under one judge, the U.S., for about 11,000 instances lodged in federal court. District Judge Freda Wolfson is addressing comparable complaints at the U.S. court in Trenton, New Jersey.
Johnson & Johnson challenges scientific principles from the witnesses of the plaintiffs and argues that they cannot demonstrate that baby powder causes cancer. The firm expects Wolfson to reject all 22 witnesses of the plaintiffs and reject the cases.
Eight witnesses, five from the plaintiffs and three from Johnson & Johnson, will hear from Wolfson starting Monday. Before choosing what, the jury hears, Wolfson will also review the research and other proof submitted by the legal teams.
The hearing is a turning point for Johnson & Johnson. It could provide a way out of about 11,000 cases— or 79 percent of all exceptional baby powder lawsuits — to the business.
In past talk studies, Johnson & Johnson has had mixed outcomes so far. Last year, a Missouri jury instructed J&J to pay $4.69 billion to 22 females who claimed the talc-based baby powder of the company contained asbestos and caused ovarian cancer to grow.
If Wolfson blocks the professionals of the plaintiffs, she may reject all the cases that are exceptional. If she enables all the witnesses to testify, this will allow approximately 11,000 cases to go to court. She might discourage some from testifying, potentially reshaping which lawsuits are still going on and which are being dropped.
“In a longer process, this is a critical stage,” said Michelle Parfitt, Ashcraft &Gerel’s partner, and co-leader for the steering committee of the plaintiffs. “We can move on to deliver the opinion or order once the judge discovers that the specialists are skilled.”
Where the judge might issue a decision is uncertain, although it might take some time for Wolfson to review all the testimony and records. One witness will testify every day for the Daubert hearing, bringing the discussion to the end of this month. If Wolfson enables the cases to continue, the result of the analysis will mainly determine the starting date of any proceedings against Johnson & Johnson. It is also possible to appeal the judgment of Wolfson on proof and witnesses, which may further delay any trials.
Wolfson will have a large hand in shaping how the instances move forward. She might send them all back to their home courts, for example, or she might call for a bellwether trial to test the business and the arguments of the plaintiffs, lawyers say.
Concerns about the namesake baby powder of the company have weighed on the iconic, family-friendly picture of Johnson & Johnson — and its stock price.