Last Friday, a federal judge denied a request by Johnson & Johnson, which sought to get a lawsuit transfer. The request was for the transfer of approximately 2,400 lawsuits to a Delaware based district court. The lawsuits are over Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. The denial means that all the cases were sent back to state courts.
The cases have alleged that the product includes asbestos and is the cause for ovarian and other cancers. J&J’s request comes after Imerys, its talc supplier, has also come under fire and is facing lawsuits. Earlier this year, J&J sought Chapter 11 protection in Delaware.
Judge Maryellen Noreika, who made the ruling last Friday, stated that J&J’s supplier’s filing for bankruptcy in Delaware does not give the Delaware federal court authority over the lawsuits.
Noreika stated that the state judges are better suited to hearing the cases before them than the federal court is. This is because if the federal court should get involved, there is then the question of hearing multiple such cases and needing to apply different state laws based on the unique circumstances of each.
This denial means that J&J now must follow the proceedings of various state courts, which all yield different results. For example, a jury in Missouri ruled that the company must pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who had alleged that they developed ovarian cancer due to J&J’s talc-based baby powders.
A J&J spokeswoman stated that the company is disappointed in the decision as it was looking to streamline the review process for the current crop of cases.
J&J maintains that its baby powder is safe and non-carcinogenic, and it intends to defend its position in court continuously.
Currently, J&J faces a total of 14,000 lawsuits that have cited the baby powder as the cause in cases of both ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.