A U.S. District judge dismissed Johnson & Johnson’s request to have 2,400 state-court lawsuits linking its talcum powder products to cancer immediately transferred to a federal court in Delaware, a move the consumer health care giant sought in order to wage a single defense strategy in the mounting litigation over the safety of its talc-containing products, Bloomberg reported.
Johnson & Johnson had hoped to establish an urgency in transferring the cases by invoking the legal rights of its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February to protect itself against thousands of similar lawsuits. The move, J&J said, would facilitate faster trials and case resolutions. But U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika in Wilmington dismissed the request, saying that the company “cannot establish an emergency” by piggybacking on Imery’s bankruptcy effort.
The day after Noreika’s ruling, a Florida federal judge refused to delay the case of a woman suing Johnson & Johnson over claims that its baby powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer while the company’s transfer bid to Delaware is being considered, Law360 reported. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez-Covington said that postponing the trial indefinitely would cause significant prejudice to plaintiff Patricia Matthey, while moving forward with the case would not cause hardship to Johnson & Johnson.
“Such a postponement is particularly problematic here where Matthey is in ill health and there is a legitimate concern that she will not live to see her day in court if the case is stayed,” Hernandez-Covington said.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 12,000 lawsuits over claims its talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos that contributed to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma diagnoses.