JNJ

Latest J&J talc trial ends with hung jury

Credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID

By Brendan Pierson

March 5 (Reuters) - The latest trial over claims that Johnson & Johnson's JNJ.N talc products cause cancer ended in a mistrial on Tuesday, as a Florida state court jury said it could not agree on a verdict.

The lawsuit was brought by Bob Sugarman, who said that J&J's talc-based baby powder led his wife to develop ovarian cancer and die from the disease.

J&J said in a statement after the mistrial that its baby powder "is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer."

Lance Oliver, a lawyer for Sugarman, said the verdict was "disappointing" but that it was "part of the system," and that he expected the case would be retried in the near future.

J&J faces more than 50,000 lawsuits over talc, most by women with ovarian cancer, with a minority of the cases involving people with mesothelioma, a type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

The cases were on hold for about two years after J&J attempted to resolve its talc liabilities in bankruptcy court, where it proposed to settle all current and future cases for $8.9 billion. However, federal courts dismissed two separate bankruptcy filings, allowing litigation to resume last year.

J&J has nonetheless said it may try to move the talc cases into bankruptcy a third time. In December, its worldwide vice president for litigation told investors that it had settled some talc cases "with a goal to facilitate our pursuit of a consensual prepackaged bankruptcy resolution."

Before the bankruptcy filings, trials in the talc cases had a mixed record, with major plaintiff wins including a $2.1 billion judgment in 2021 awarded to 22 women with ovarian cancer.

A New Jersey appeals court in October threw out a $223.7 million verdict against the company, finding the testimony of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses unsound.

The company stopped selling talc-based baby powder in favor of cornstarch-based products, citing an increase in lawsuits and "misinformation" about the talc product's safety.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bill Berkrot)

((Brendan.Pierson@thomsonreuters.com; 332-219-1345 (desk); 646-306-0235 (cell);))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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