A jury cleared J&J of liability on Sept. 24 in the first talc ovarian cancer trial to be held in Philadelphia, finding that the plaintiff’s cancer was not caused by the pharmaceutical giant’s talc.
Plaintiff Ellen Kleiner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries to remove her sexual organs. By the time Kleiner was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her abdomen.
According to Law360.com, court filings revealed that J&J’s legal team argued that other contributing factors contributed to Kleiner’s cancer, including her Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Ashkenazi Jews, originally from areas of France and Germany, migrated to eastern Europe in the 11th- through 13th century.
Cosmetics Business, in covering the case, referenced findings published via the National Library of Medicine that suggest that hereditary ovarian cancer is much higher in Ashkenazi women because of inherited mutations.
Kleiner testified that she had used talc products for over three decades. Her attorneys argued that since at least the 1940s, there has been a clear link in the risk of using talc powder products and developing cancer.
Attorneys for Kleiner said they will appeal the decision. The trial included five weeks’ worth of evidence.
Currently, a J&J talc cancer trial is underway in Missouri, and the national multidistrict litigation, a consolidation of thousands of cases, is ongoing as well. Last month, a California appeals court affirmed a $29 million damage award for a talc powder cancer plaintiff.
Last year, J&J, facing thousands of talc powder lawsuits, withdrew all of its talc products from North American stores. The company also settled approximately 1,000 talc cancer lawsuits for $100 million in 2020. In June of this year, the Supreme Court refused J&J’s request to overturn a talc powder cancer verdict that awarded 20 women over $2 billion in damages.