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Status Conference Set to Discuss Talcum Powder Lawsuits

talcum powderCoordinated proceedings involving talcum powder litigation continues to move forward in New Jersey, even as the number of lawsuits continues to increase. Lawsuits were consolidated by court order just weeks ago and now the first status conference has been scheduled to discuss the details of the early trial proceedings to follow.

In the first case management order, dated November 20, preliminary instructions were outlined to move the newly assigned multi-county litigation (MCL) forward. The order includes the date for the first status conference between attorneys and the judges overseeing the litigation, which will be held on January 13, 2016.

At that time, parties are expected to discuss the structure of the proceedings, including pretrial guidelines and ongoing discovery.

Talc multi-county litigation in NJ

At this time, there are approximately 65 talcum powder lawsuits pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Atlantic County.  However, that number is expected to rise as more women file lawsuits against the manufacturers of these products, alleging use of talcum powder near the female genitalia led to diagnoses of ovarian cancer.

In fact, the expectation by legal experts is that there will be hundreds, even thousands, of cases filed before the coordinated proceedings are completed.

Risks associated with talcum power

Talcum powder is typically associated with infants, but has also been used by women for hygiene purposes, particularly around the female genitalia. However, reports of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use has raised concerns among women and the medical community. Numerous studies have been conducted to assess the risk of ovarian cancer with talc use, and some of those studies have found an increased incidence of cancer in women who use the powder products regularly.

One such study, performed by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2013, found that regular talc use increased a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 24 percent. The study involved data on more than 18,000 women, some who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and others that were not. This study applied only to talcum powder applied to the genital area and not to other areas of the body.

Unfortunately, studies performed as early as the 1980s showed similar findings, but were not presented to the general public at that time. Results of the studies were instead relegated to the editions of medical journals and went mostly unheeded by the general public and manufacturers of the talc-based products.

Growing litigation

Women who claim to have been injured by talc-based products have begun filing lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers. The women are alleging that the manufacturers of the products knew of the risks but failed to make those risks known to the general public.

The MCL was established for the purpose of streamlining early trial proceedings in the midst of a growing number of lawsuits featuring similar allegations and statements of fact. Now, people involved in the litigation will be watching the proceedings in New Jersey to see how juries respond to evidence and testimony and how early cases are decided.

  1. Superior Court of New Jersey, Re: Talc-Based Powder Products, Case Management Order No. 1,

  2. NJ Spotlight, Link between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Sparks Growing Legal Battle,

  3. Daily Mail, Women Who Regularly Use Talcum Powder Increase their Risk of Ovarian Cancer by 24%,

  4. Ovarian Cancer Australia, Harvard Scientist Links Talcum Powder to Increased Ovarian Cancer Risk,

  5. Notice to the Bar, Re: Application for Centralized Management of Certain Cases Involving Talc-Based Products,