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What is the Current Status of Multi-district or Class Action Litigation for Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Claims?

March 15, 2017 - If you have received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder with talc or Shower to Shower with talc for feminine hygiene purposes, you may wonder whether talcum powder contributed to your diagnosis. Or, perhaps you have not yet been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but you have used J & J talcum powder for many years and are worried your use of talcum powder could result in a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. You may also have questions regarding whether there will be an MDL, a class action or a mass action for talcum powder ovarian cancer claims. Thus far, there have been three lawsuits heard, all of which were decided in favor of the plaintiffs. These lawsuits were not part of an MDL, a class action or a mass action.

 

The first Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit was decided in October 2013, in favor of plaintiff Deane Berg, although Berg was awarded no damages. The second Johnson & Johnson baby powder ovarian cancer lawsuit was decided in February 2016, in favor of the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died of ovarian cancer a few months prior to the trial. The Fox family received $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages. The third Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit was decided in May 2016 in favor of plaintiff Gloria Ristesund. Ristesund was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

 

Differences Between MDL’s, Class Action Lawsuits and Mass Action Torts

A class action lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of people who share similar injuries, damages and/or circumstances. While a class action can be a useful tool for forcing companies to change dangerous practices or take defective or dangerous products off the market, claimants involved in a class action lawsuit all receive the same amount in damages—and that amount is generally quite small. Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are required to show that their experience with the company is typical. In the Johnson & Johnson baby powder ovarian cancer cases, a class action lawsuit would include women with similar injuries (ovarian cancer) and those women would likely have similar circumstances. As an example, the women in a class action might all be in their forties, with similar risk factors for developing ovarian cancer.

 

A mass tort lawsuit, like a class action, attempts to reduce the number of court cases in the system, however mass torts cover a much broader range of claim types.  A mass tort might be brought when a large number of consumers are injured by a defective product. Unlike a class action lawsuit, however, the women involved in a mass tort lawsuit do not have to fit such narrow circumstances. A mass action talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit might include women of all ages. These women might have a variety of risk factors for developing ovarian cancer. Mass action lawsuits tend to be more complicated than class action because they are structured differently, making it difficult to determine settlements and compensations.

 

An MDL, or multi-district litigation also groups injured individuals together, according to circumstances, however the cases are resolved on an individual basis. The MDL attempts to increase efficiency, by allowing a single judge to oversee similar cases. Discovery is shared, and the judge can rule on a specific issue, allowing that ruling to remain constant for each case. When there are large numbers of claimants against one defendant, and more plaintiffs are expected, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will decide when to transfer cases to an MDL.  At the state level, the state supreme court or a similar judicial panel can make the decision to consolidate similar cases. Once cases have been consolidated before a single judge in an MDL, bellwether, or “trial” cases will be scheduled to expose possible weaknesses in the legal arguments. In some instances, large settlements are offered following the formation of an MDL.

 

What is the status of talcum powder ovarian cancer cases are currently pending across the nation?

 

Missouri: In 2016, Missouri saw three Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer cases render almost $200 million dollars in collective damages to plaintiffs. In early 2017, attorneys for 56 year-old Tennessean Nora Daniels began arguments in another Missouri state court proceeding, pursuing damages based on their assertions that she developed Ovarian Cancer from long term use of Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder products. This trial concluded in early March, and a verdict could come down very soon. The case is officially listed as Valerie Swann et al. v Johnson & Johnson et al.

 

Recently, Missouri’s state legislature voted out of committee a bill that would heighten the standard for expert testimony at trial, which would make it more difficult for Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Plaintiff’s to present certain evidence. [The bill may also contain language limiting joinder for out of state plaintiffs.] The State’s newly elected governor indicated he would sign the bill into law. It remains to be seen how this legislation, if passed, will affect future Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer cases.

 

New Jersey: In October of last year, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized  Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases for that state. This centralization came sometime after a pair of plaintiffs had their cases dismissed by a Judge who ruled that their expert’s testimony did not provide enough scientific proof to establish a causative link between talc and ovarian cancer. It is possible that Johnson & Johnson may attempt to consolidate other state court cases into this New Jersey Multidistrict Litigation.

 

California: In Los Angeles Superior Court, there is a coordinated proceeding involving over 300 plaintiffs. The first case in this group will be heard in July of 2017, as Judge Maren Nelson set the trial date as soon as was possible, based on plaintiff Eva Echeverria’s doctor’s assertion that she may have less than 6 months to live.

If you have questions regarding whether your baby powder ovarian cancer lawsuit would be best filed individually, in an MDL, a mass action or a class action, and in what venue, it would be extremely beneficial to speak to a knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney.

 

 

If you have questions regarding whether your baby powder ovarian cancer lawsuit would be best filed individually, in an MDL, a mass action or a class action, and in what venue, it would be extremely beneficial to speak to a knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney.


 

 

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