A Pennsylvania federal judge recently denied motions by the defendants in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit to exclude the testimony of several expert witnesses for the plaintiffs, thereby allowing the case to proceed as scheduled. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson had sought to derail the plaintiff’s case by claiming that the testimony which would have been presented by the witnesses in question was not proper on the grounds that the expert’s methods were not generally accepted by the scientific community.
In her ruling, the Philadelphia judge determined that Johnson & Johnson had failed to properly challenge the methods used by the experts to reach their scientific determinations and instead focused on those conclusions themselves. With the denial of Johnson & Johnson’s motion, the case will proceed as scheduled and it will be up to a jury to decide whether or not they agree with the scientific evidence, and ultimately the plaintiff’s case.
Johnson & Johnson’s motion to exclude the plaintiff’s expert witnesses comes not long after a New Jersey federal judge handed down a multidistrict litigation ruling allowing the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses to present evidence that the company’s talc-based products are linked to serious forms of cancer. The judge in those cases determined that the expert witnesses for the plaintiffs may testify that the talc Johnson & Johnson used in its cosmetics products was contaminated with asbestos and other substances which could cause the victims’ health conditions.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 19,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits, most of which are in the federal court system, brought by plaintiffs who claim they were seriously harmed by years of using the company’s talcum powder products such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Those lawsuits claim that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in these products but provided no warning to consumers about the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos fibers.
Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that can be found in deposits side by side one another. If talc sourcing companies do not take precautions when processing talc, asbestos contamination may occur and innocent people may be put at risk of developing mesothelioma and other cancers.
Thus far, juries in state courts in Missouri, New Jersey, and California have handed down billions of dollars in compensation to dozens of plaintiffs who claim that Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys Talc USA, acted negligently when they knowingly sold asbestos-contaminated products. Recently, a Missouri court upheld over $2 billion in total compensation awarded to 22 plaintiffs back in 2018.
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