New Jersey Federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

New Jersey Federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

A federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) that focuses on women’s health issues has chosen two female attorneys as Co-Lead Counsels, going against a national bent toward male-dominated MDL leadership. In December 2016, Leigh O’Dell, a principal at Montgomery, Alabama, based Beasley Allen Law Firm, and Michelle Parfitt off Ashcraft & Gerel, a firm based in Washington, D.C. were tapped to lead the consolidated MDL in New Jersey federal court concerning talcum powder’s link to ovarian cancer.

Lawsuits in the MDL allege Johnson & Johnson is liable for personal injuries and wrongful deaths from ovarian or uterine cancer in women who used the company’s products for feminine hygiene. Judge Freda L. Wolfson, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey in Trenton, was appointed by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to preside over the MDL.

In addition to O’Dell and Parfitt, six women and 12 men will serve on the plaintiffs’ leadership team.

Johnson & Johnson has already tangled in court over allegations linking its talcum powder products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder to increased risk of ovarian cancer. It has not gone well for J&J. In three talc trials held in Missouri in 2016, three separate juries awarded a total of $197 million in damages to plaintiffs and their families in the cases, finding Johnson and Johnson’s talc products responsible for contributing to the development of their ovarian cancer.

Additionally, there are about 200 lawsuits pending in the New Jersey state court coordinated proceeding under Judge Nelson Johnson, and in California more than 200 plaintiffs are pending in California state court assigned to Judge Maren E. Nelson of the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.

“J&J once marketed the powder to women with the jingle, ‘A sprinkle a day helps keep the odor away.’ Whether it keeps the doctor away is another story, one that will continue to play out in US courts.” –

There are more than a dozen lawsuits pending in the New Jersey Federal Multidistrict Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The MDL is In re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices And Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:16-md-02738, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

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