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Round 5: Talcum Powder Plaintiffs versus Johnson & Johnson

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St. Louis, MOMissouri’s fifth talcum powder trial began April 11, with plaintiffs claiming that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the link to ovarian cancer but chose profit over safety and continued to market Shower-to-Shower and Johnson's Baby Powder.

Four Missouri talcum powder trials have resulted in only one win for the giant drug company and it is unknown how many claims have been settled out of court. (In the first lawsuit filed, J&J offered Diane Berg $1.3 million in return for a confidentiality clause, which she turned down.) The fifth lawsuit now underway was filed on behalf of Lois Slemp, a 61-year-old Virginia woman who was granted trial preference as she has Stage III(c) ovarian cancer.

Opening statements by Allen Smith, Slemp’s attorney, are televised on

Courtroom View Network . Orlando Richmond, J&J’s lead defense attorney told the jury that “This is going to be a fight, and it’s going to be a fight because it’s a serious thing being accused of a product that causes ovarian cancer.” The National Law Journal added that Richmond criticized the “unfounded” and “unfair” allegations that had been “carefully crafted” in a case made of “bubble gum and tape”. (definition: a highly precarious patching / rigging of any item or situation with improvised materials or ideas to get through or beyond an obstacle, as in: It's gonna take a whole lotta duct tape and bubble gum, but I think we can land it in the Hudson.)

Richmond went on to compare science with roosters and sunrise, meaning that one doesn’t cause the other. “Does a rooster’s crow cause the sunrise? Of course not…Nor does the sun cause the rooster to crow,” he told the jury.

Plaintiff’s attorney Smith went on to tell the jury that, “This case is about corporate profit and maintaining a corporate image over human life...And your verdict could prevent potentially hundreds of thousands of women from contracting one of the most deadly forms of cancer.”

Over 3,000 talcum powder lawsuits involving J&J products are filed and about 1,000 of those claims are pending in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court, where Slemp’s trial is taking place, Digital Journal reported..

As well, about 158 federally-filed cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation that is currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. Thousands more talcum powder lawsuits have been centralized in New Jersey, Delaware and California state courts. The first California trial is slated for July, where the plaintiff has been granted trial preference like Slemp, as she is not expected to live for more than six months.

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READER COMMENTS

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My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2002. She used talc powerder for years. She passed away in 2006. I don't know if something can be done since she passed away years ago.

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