Talc Talk: Leigh O’Dell weighs in on Johnson & Johnson litigation

Beasley Allen principal Leigh O’Dell co-chairs the Talc multidistrict litigation (MDL) Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

The parties recently attended a status conference in New Jersey. It was the first status conference in the MDL with Judge Michael Shipp and Magistrate Judge Rukhsanah Singh since the bankruptcy of LTL Management, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was dismissed. Judge Shipp was appointed to oversee the Talc MDL earlier this year following the retirement of Judge Freda L. Wolfson.   

During the court hearing, the parties presented their proposed bellwether scheduling orders. The only dispute that arose was whether Johnson & Johnson could re-litigate Judge Wolfson’s Daubert decision on general causation while preparing for the bellwether case.

The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee opposed such efforts, and the court took the Daubert-related issue under advisement. A bellwether trial is likely to be scheduled during Fall 2024. Defendants urged the court to plan a “science” day.

The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee then suggested that the court have an “education” session to cover procedural and legal matters related to Johnson & Johnson’s liability and the scientific evidence supporting causation. The court agreed that a day should be allocated to familiarize them with all the necessary information.

“We’re focused on accomplishing a just and fair resolution for our clients,” said O’Dell. “We believe that means moving forward with the trial of as many cases as possible and as expeditiously as possible.”

The court strongly encouraged the parties to devote time and energy to settlement discussions. The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee assured the court that leadership has been engaging in good-faith discussions for some time and will continue to do so.

Talcum Powder

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