Johnson & Johnson Gets A New Shot At Challenging Talc-Cancer Evidence

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J&J Gets A Chance To Challenge The Scientific Evidence Linking Its Talc Products To Ovarian Cancer, Affecting Over 53,000 Lawsuits.

Johnson & Johnson has been given the judicial nod to contest the scientific evidence suggesting a link between its talcum powder products and ovarian cancer. The decision, coming from U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp, could significantly affect the outcome of the multitude of lawsuits—over 53,000 to be precise—currently pending against the company.

Reassessing the evidence

The ruling follows new scientific developments and changes in the law, which has led to a reconsideration of J&J's alleged connection to ovarian cancer risks. Judge Shipp's order came as part of a procedural shift in the case, now under his purview following Judge Freda Wolfson's retirement, who had managed the litigation since 2016.

As reported by Reuters, Erik Haas, who oversees litigation for J&J, spoke out on behalf of the company, signaling their readiness to dismantle what they label as "made-for-court junk science." Haas cites decades of scientific research and medical support that back J&J's stance on the safety of their talc products.

Plaintiffs hold their ground

Representing the plaintiffs, attorneys Leigh O'Dell and Michelle Parfitt remain steadfast in their position, arguing that the evidence linking talc to cancer is stronger than before. They have continuously pointed out the alleged concealment by J&J of potential carcinogens in their talcum powder and their misleading of the medical and scientific communities.

The Daubert standard in focus

This new opportunity for J&J to present their case comes after the litigation was paused due to bankruptcy proceedings involving a J&J subsidiary, LTL Management, which was the company's strategy to compartmentalize talc liabilities. The legal battles have resumed, with a recent trial concluding with a hung jury on March 5.

Under the current order, J&J has until July 23 to compile and present their renewed scientific arguments.

The Daubert standard, a principle that arises from a 1993 Supreme Court ruling, will be a key factor in these upcoming arguments. It requires a rigorous evaluation of expert testimony to ensure its reliability and pertinence to the case at hand. J&J sees this as an opportunity to challenge and potentially exclude evidence that does not meet these strict criteria.

As Johnson & Johnson prepares to challenge the talc-cancer claims in court, their recent settlement agreement—allocating $700 million to resolve claims in 42 states—adds a layer to the company’s legal strategy. This January 2024 settlement, addressing concerns over talc safety, indicates the company’s initiative to mitigate issues surrounding their products’ alleged health risks.

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