In September of 2016, a New Jersey Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuits of two women who claimed that their use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer. The judge dismissed the lawsuits based on his rejection of plaintiffs’ expert testimony, which would have been used to try to link the cause of plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer to the talcum powder products. Plaintiffs have now appealed the dismissal of their lawsuits, arguing that the trial judge incorrectly excluded their experts’ opinions.
At the trial court level, the plaintiffs sought to introduce testimony from Dr. Graham A. Colditz and Dr. Daniel W. Cramer, who were prepared to offer opinions regarding the alleged link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In precluding both experts from testifying, the trial court stated: “Though both Plaintiffs’ experts are eminently qualified, their areas of scientific inquiry, reasoning, and methodology are slanted away from objective science and toward advocacy.”
Plaintiffs’ appeal argues that instead of determining whether the experts used established methods to reach their conclusions, the judge assumed a jury’s fact-finding role and based his ruling on personal opinions about the experts’ conclusions and the experts’ credibility. The jury, plaintiffs’ argued, should be allowed to hear the testimony of Drs. Colditz and Cramer – the court’s role should be limited to ensuring that the experts’ theories are based on sound methodology. Drs. Colditz and Cramer previously testified in two other talc cases, each of which ended in verdicts of $72 million and $55 million in 2016. In those cases, Johnson & Johnson sought to exclude the testimony of Drs. Colditz and Cramer, but their motions were denied by the courts.
The attorneys at CMBG3 Law LLC have represented clients in talc, products liability, and toxic tort matters for many years. We provide the most current advice by staying informed of legal, scientific and medical developments regarding a wide variety of substances and products, including talc-containing products, used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact John Gardella (email him or 617-936-4353, ext. 204).