Talc product liability litigation has exploded in recent years as talc miners, suppliers and manufacturers face attacks on at least two fronts alleging that talc products cause cancer. Talc litigation began as an extension of traditional asbestos litigation. As more and more asbestos defendants face insolvency, plaintiffs shifted their focus toward non-traditional defendants, including manufacturers and suppliers of consumer talcum powder and other products that contain talc. They allege that the talc used in such products was contaminated with asbestos and caused or contributed to the plaintiffs’ asbestos-related disease. Asbestos-contaminated talc litigation continues to grow, as does the pool of new defendants. Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ lawyers have begun pursuing litigation against talc defendants on another front.

Hundreds of cases have been filed across the country in recent months alleging that talc, in and of itself, causes ovarian cancer in women who use talc-based cosmetic products. A relatively small number of these cases are pending in California, D.C., Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania state courts. St. Louis, Missouri, where there are over 1,400 pending cases and three eight-figure jury verdicts in 2016 is, however, the epicenter of this litigation. While St. Louis has proven favorable for plaintiffs, New Jersey state court litigation seems to be disadvantageous. On Sept. 2, Judge Johnson in Atlantic County granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants in two bellwether talc cases. The court held that the testimony of the plaintiffs’ causation experts was inadmissible based on the lack of a proper scientific basis. Those same experts, however, were allowed to testify at trial in the St. Louis cases.

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