Johnson & Johnson persuaded a New Jersey judge to throw out two women’s lawsuits blaming the health-care company’s talcum powder for their ovarian cancer.
The ruling may help J&J fend off more than 1,000 suits in state and federal courts accusing the drugmaker of ignoring studies that linked its talc products to ovarian cancer. Judge Nelson Johnson in Atlantic City ruled Friday the women couldn’t produce sufficient medical evidence showing J&J’s Baby Powder caused cancer.
Brandi Carl’s and Diana Balderrama’s talc suits were the first scheduled for trial in New Jersey, starting in October. J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is also facing a talc trial this month in state court in St. Louis.
J&J lost two trials in St. Louis. A jury ordered the company to pay $72 million in damages to a woman in February and in May, another jury awarded $55 million in damages to a South Dakota woman who blamed the powder for her cancer.
In the New Jersey cases, Johnson said testimony from experts hired by the women’s lawyers to outline links between talc and ovarian cancer suffered from “multiple deficiencies” and didn’t provide legitimate grounds for the suits.
“The court’s decision today appropriately reflects the science and facts at issue in this litigation,” Carol Goodrich, a J&J spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”
Ted Meadows, an Alabama-based lawyer representing Carl and Balderrama, said Johnson’s ruling was at odds with other judges’ findings that there are sufficient links between talc and cancer to allow cases to go to trial. “We are planning to appeal his ruling,” Meadows said in an interview Friday.
In his 33-page ruling, Johnson said the plaintiffs’ experts’ review of the links between talc and cancer suffered from “narrowness and shallowness,” and didn’t provide reliable evidence the substance could cause the disease.
Meadows said Johnson’s ruling will affect the more than 200 talc lawsuits consolidated before him in New Jersey’s state courts, but won’t have an impact on the more than 1,000 suits gathered in state court in St. Louis.
The case is Brandi Carl v. Johnson & Johnson, No. ATL-L-6546-14, Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division (Atlantic City).
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