Despite announcing a plan to settle 1,000 talcum powder cases for $100 million in October last year, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) faces approximately 20,000 suits, in which plaintiffs allege they developed ovarian cancer because the powder was contaminated with asbestos. Plaintiffs also allege J&J knew for decades that its finished talcum powder may contain asbestos—a cancer-causing mineral—and hid the risks to health regulators and the public.
According to Law360.com, over 20 talc suits brought against J&J by the same plaintiff attorneys and filed in Georgia are being stayed (on hold), pending an appellate court’s ruling on whether affidavits submitted by plaintiff’s medical expert witness, Dr. Richard L. Kradin, satisfies the state’s asbestos act requirements.
J&J urged a Georgia three-judge appeals court panel last week to dismiss two nearly identical talc powder suits. The company argued that Dr. Kradin failed in his affidavits to rule out other causes of ovarian cancer that ultimately killed plaintiffs Irene Shiver and Catherine Shrodes.
Previously, J&J’s motions to dismiss the two suits were denied; the company wants that motion reversed.
Attorneys for J&J argued that Georgia state courts have so far ruled six times on the issue, including four times in plaintiffs’ favor, creating inconsistent findings. In light of this, the causation standard has become lowered; non-asbestos related causes such as other environmental factors were not eliminated, J&J argued.
However, during the trial, the court found that the suits’ medical reports showed sufficient evidence under the statute, Law360.com reports.
Contrary to J&J’s argument, a plaintiff attorney said the law does not require that every single other cause be ruled out. And furthermore, the law does not require specific words from Georgia’s Asbestos and Silica Claims Act.
Plaintiff’s attorneys also shot down J&J’s attempt to question the validity of Dr. Kradin’s affidavit. The doctor graduated from Harvard Medical School and is board-certified by three different medical boards.
Law360.com says Kradin testified in the Shiver and Shrodes trials—now consolidated into one case—that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and other talc products was the substantial cause of the women’s ovarian cancer. The two women died a month apart two years ago, and used Johnson & Johnson talc daily for 42 years and 26 years, respectively.
Talc manufacturer, PTI Royston LLC, doing business as Pharma Tech Industries is also named as a defendant.