J&J Hearing Aims to Dismiss Thousands of Lawsuits Over Talc Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will present its case to have thousands of lawsuits over its talc baby powder products dismissed in a critical hearing on Monday. The lawsuits, which total more than 14,000, allege that the company’s baby powder causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

A federal judge will determine what evidence can and cannot be presented to juries before the trial starts in what is called a Daubert hearing. The aim of the hearing is to ensure that testimonies given by expert witnesses are based on sound science.

The pretrial proceedings for about 11,000 cases have been consolidated under one judge, U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson.

J&J will argue that the plaintiffs’ witnesses cannot prove that their baby powder causes cancer and will call into question the scientific principles of the witnesses. The company is hoping to dismiss all of the 22 witnesses as well as the cases.

Judge Wolfson will hear from eight witnesses, five of which are from the plaintiffs and three of which are from J&J. The judge will review the evidence and studies submitted by both legal teams before determining what the jury will hear. One witness will testify per day, so the hearing will extend through the end of the month.

The hearing will be critical for J&J, as it could be a way to get the company out of approximately 11,000 lawsuits, which accounts for the majority of the baby powder lawsuits.

Previous talc trials have had mixed results. Last year, a jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that J&J’s baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

If Wolfson dismisses the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, all of the outstanding cases may also be dismissed. If testimony is permitted for all of the witnesses, that would allow the lawsuits to proceed to trial.

Wolfson’s decision may also be appealed, which could further delay the trials.