A Supreme Court ruling in a Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) case that limited where companies could be sued by requiring a stronger connection between the plaintiff’s claim and the company’s misconduct, has resulted in the near doubling of talc ovarian cancer cases consolidated in New Jersey federal court. Following the BMS ruling, Judge Freda L. Wolfson of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey issued an order that allowed plaintiffs to re-file their cases in the consolidated litigation in order to avoid the potential challenge of jurisdiction.
Since Wolfson’s order, more than 1,900 plaintiffs – most of whom had initially filed their cases in state court in Missouri – have refilled their cases in the talc ovarian cancer multidistrict litigation. Just more than 4,000 plaintiffs have had their cases consolidated in the federal litigation as of Dec. 1, 2017, up from nearly 2,700 since late September.
Currently, there are more talc cases in the multidistrict litigation than any other court, but “there are still a significant number of cases in St. Louis and we expect that to continue to be a robust venue for the litigation,” Leigh O’Dell, co-lead counsel for the talc plaintiffs, told Bloomberg Law.
The cases against consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson and supplier Imerys Talc America Inc., allege the companies knew but did not warn consumers that use of talc containing products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower on the genitals for personal hygiene could cause ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson says it was facing about 5,500 ovarian cancer lawsuits as of Oct. 1, 2017, including 15 multi-plaintiff cases pending in the City of St. Louis. It is unclear how many plaintiffs are in each of those cases.