Manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson is facing allegations of product liability for its alleged concealment of the risk of developing ovarian cancer by using products containing toxic talcum powder. The case, Hogans, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, is one of thousands of such claims pending against the company and the third in this multi-district litigation action to go to trial.
The two previous talc injury cases that went to trial resulted in verdicts of $72 million and $55 million, respectively. It’s estimated there are 1,200 lawsuits pending in Missouri and New Jersey, and the outcome of this third case could dictate whether the company moves to settle those pending cases (and for how much) or whether it continues to fight them.
The plaintiff in this action has been diagnosed with Stage Four ovarian cancer. She has reportedly used Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder products on her genitals for most of her adult life. She alleges the company was aware that talc applied in this region could travel to the ovaries and pose a risk of deadly cancer, and yet it chose to conceal this information from the public.
The defendant company, however, argues that the ovarian cancer in this case (as in the other cases) doesn’t have any single, identifiable cause. Furthermore, the defense contends that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have reviewed the possible cancer risks of these products and determined they were safe.
This trial in particular is expected to last up to four weeks, and attorneys from across the country have come to the courtroom to represent their various clients. For example, a Columbia, South Carolina law firm is representing Johnson & Johnson. Meanwhile, the firm’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America (also a defendant in the case), is represented by a law firm out of Portland, Oregon. The plaintiff, meanwhile, is represented by a legal team from Mississippi.
In order to prove fault in this – or any – product liability lawsuit, a plaintiff needs to show one of:
- Strict liability. The product contained an unreasonably dangerous defect that injured the consumer, and the defect was the result of the design, manufacture, handling, or shipping. The defect caused the injury while the product was being used as it was intended to be used and had not been substantially changed from the way it was originally sold.
- Negligence. The manufacturer owed a duty to the plaintiff, the manufacturer breached that duty, the breach was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result.
- Breach of Warranty. There are implied and express warranties on all products sold, and if a product’s quality is less than what is represented in these warranties, the manufacturer or seller could be liable for injuries. Some warranties are express because the manufacturer or seller states it, while others are implied based on the nature of the sale.
In the most recent J&J lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges the company should be accountable for negligence and breach of warranty for knowingly selling a product that was known to be dangerous – at the expense of consumers – in order to protect a brand that was profitable.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
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