JPML Transfers Baby Powder Lawsuits To New Jersey
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated the 11 actions in a Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawsuits motion to transfer before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Friday, October 7, 2016 - The motion to transfer talcum powder lawsuits into multidistrict litigation has been approved by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), which consolidated 11 actions before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The court also acknowledged 43 tag-along actions in addition to the 11 that were consolidated, however that number could jump drastically given the more than 1,200 Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawsuits currently pending around the country. The move will consolidate all lawsuits that join the MDL and make it easier for talcum powder lawyers to work together more efficiently in hopes of moving the litigation forward at a quicker pace.
The JPML ruled that the arguments made in the motion to transfer satisfied all the qualifications necessary for the litigation to be centralized. There were a sufficient amount of actions in the motion to transfer, in addition to potential tag-alongs, to necessitate the creation of an MDL to streamline proceedings going forward. Those actions also shared enough common questions of fact to all be included in the same MDL, and the litigation for most of them had not progressed so far in their home districts to negate the utility of multidistrict litigation.
The JPML decided to place the litigation in New Jersey, where the defendant, Johnson & Johnson, had preferred the MDL to be centralized. Both the defense and most of the plaintiffs preferred the litigation to be centralized, though there were a number of other districts to which the plaintiffs had preferred the actions to be consolidated. Southern Illinois and the middle district of Georgia were other possibilities that the JPML decided did not best serve the interests of the parties involved.
The JPML did address the complaints of plaintiffs who did not support the transfer of the litigation into an MDL. In response to the grievances that claimed too many talcum powder lawsuits had already progressed too far to benefit from consolidation, the panel pointed out that many state courts were already working in concert concerning the Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawsuits and that this process would only be support by consolidating those efforts before a single federal court.
The panel also responded to the claims that the unique issues brought up by each talcum powder lawsuit would overshadow the common questions of fact they shared. The JPML claimed that the main question of fact, that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of the medically researched connection between their talcum powder products and ovarian cancer, was shared among all the lawsuits in question.
The talcum powder lawyers representing plaintiffs in federal cases will now coordinate their efforts and begin pretrial proceedings in the near future before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The headquarters of Johnson & Johnson are based in this district, which was likely a strong reason the JPML decided to centralize the MDL before the court. The decision to transfer the litigation into multidistrict litigation was announced in a panel order released on October 4.