TRENTON, N.J. – In a ruling with significant implications for ongoing multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Johnson & Johnson, U.S. District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson has ruled that scientific and medical experts proposed by the plaintiffs’ steering committee are qualified to testify regarding the link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer.
The ruling paves the way for future bellwether trials that could establish compensatory and punitive damage guidelines for the more than 16,000 cases pending in the MDL.
“These experts report on the growing amount of peer-reviewed medical literature regarding talcum powder and ovarian cancer and represent the increasing number of highly respected researchers and doctors who are standing up to tell the world about the dangers of talcum powder,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Leigh O’Dell, co-chair of the plaintiffs’ steering committee. “These respected and qualified experts will now testify in trials about the risk factors and causes of ovarian cancer, and the biological links of talcum powder use to this deadly disease. “
“We are obviously pleased with the court’s ruling and are eager to move forward,” said Michelle Parfitt, co-chair of the plaintiffs’ steering committee. “Epidemiologists and gynecologic oncologists will be allowed to testify that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer, including their opinions regarding the contribution of asbestos, fibrous talc, and metals to its carcinogenicity.”
The clinical experts initially challenged by the defense but now cleared to testify about the dangers of talcum powder use include:
- Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD – Research Professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and the University of Washington School of Medicine, and a cancer prevention researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
- Arch “Chip” Carson, MD, PhD – Associate Professor and Program Director for the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.
- Daniel Clarke-Pearson, MD – Professor and recent Chairman in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, specializing in gynecologic oncology.
Judge Wolfson’s ruling allows additional testimony from the following experts:
- Ghassan Saed MD, PhD – Research Professor in the Departments of Obstetric Gynecology and Oncology at Wayne State University and the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit. Dr. Saed will testify about his clinical research demonstrating that talcum powder can cause inflammation and oxidative stress in cells.
- William Longo, PhD – Material scientist/electron microscopist and founder of Georgia’s Micro Analytical Laboratories, specializing in the analysis of asbestos and mineral fiber-containing materials. Dr. Longo will testify that J&J talcum powder products contain asbestos and fibrous talc, based on his analysis using transmission electron microscopy.
The case is In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2738).
The New York Times – U.S. Judge Rules Talc Lawsuits Against J&J Can Proceed, Testimony Limited
SkyNews – Thousands get go-ahead for talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson
Law360 – J&J Can’t Boot Experts To Sink Asbestos-In-Talc MDL
Law.com/New Jersey Law Journal – Judge’s Expert Ruling ‘Obliterates’ J&J’s Defense of ‘Junk Science’ in Talc Trials