Court Bars Evidence In the California Talc Litigation Trial

Jul 19, 2017 | Talc, Toxic Tort

CMBG3 previously reported on the first talcum powder ovarian cancer case in California that is anticipated to start trial today. Last week, the Court heard arguments on various pre-trial motions and on Thursday, ordered the parties to start jury selection on Friday. The Court’s intent is to have the case go to the jury by August 11, 2017.

Of note was the Court’s pre-trial ruling that counsel for the plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, would not be allowed to argue during opening statements that Johnson & Johnson conspired to prevent any requirement that its talcum powder product have warning labels. Plaintiff argued that Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., conspired to improperly influence the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to avoid regulation of the talcum powder product. Plaintiff urged the Court to look at the totality of the evidence presented, which plaintiff claimed showed that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys joined a trade group that was specifically tasked with influencing the FDA.

The Court, however, disagreed with plaintiff’s arguments, saying that “what the evidence shows is that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys were both members of trade associations that sought to persuade the FDA not to require a label on a product….There’s no showing of wrongful conduct in furtherance of a conspiracy based on the documents tendered.” The Court found no evidence in the multitude of internal company documents presented as evidence that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys had ever conducted secret studies that showed the dangers or talc and kept them from the public or took steps to prevent scientific articles from being published on the subject. The Court therefore found insufficient evidence of a conspiracy and barred plaintiff’s counsel from presenting such arguments during opening statements.

In addition, the Court ruled that the claims against Imerys were dismissed. The Court held that talc is an inherently safe product and, as such, Imerys was justified in relying on Johnson & Johnson to provide a warning on its products.

There are currently hundreds of cases pending in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Numerous manufacturers and sellers of talc-based products are finding themselves accused of conspiring to suppress information about the dangers of their products or acting negligently in failing to warn consumers.

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).




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