Judge Hears Testimony on Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
August 1, 2019
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Over the past two weeks, Plaintiffs faced an important milestone in the talcum powder litigation as Judge Wolfson presided over a Daubert hearing. The primary purpose of this hearing was to determine whether Plaintiffs’ experts are sufficiently qualified, have expressed reliable opinions, and can assist a federal jury in determining whether talcum powder products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower cause ovarian cancer.

Over the course of the hearing, Plaintiffs presented five of their almost two-dozen expert witnesses who submitted reports and opinions detailing how talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer. The experts put forward by Plaintiffs are highly acclaimed and well regarded in the fields of epidemiology, gynecology, oncology, toxicology, cell biology, particle testing, microscopy, minerology, and federal product safety regulations.

A world-renowned epidemiologist and key expert in the group, Anne McTiernan, Ph.D. M.D., testified last Thursday that four decades of reliable scientific research demonstrate that use of talcum powder products increase a woman’s chance of developing ovarian cancer by 21-33%. Dr. McTiernan previously shared this opinion with the U.S. House of Representatives and with Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Michelle Parfitt, a senior partner at Ashcraft & Gerel and co-lead counsel of the 13,000+ case multidistrict litigation, brilliantly assisted Dr. McTiernan in presenting this powerful and impactful testimony to Judge Wolfson.


Prior to the Daubert hearing, Plaintiffs submitted over 1,300 pages of legal briefing faithfully supporting and defending the evidence that talcum powder product use is a risk factor for and cause of ovarian cancer. Through this briefing, and over the course of the hearing, Plaintiffs have continuously sought to present a clear and objectively unbiased overview of the science supporting their case.

During the Daubert hearing, the Court also considered challenges to all seventeen of Defendants’ proposed witnesses, who Plaintiffs allege lack the necessary qualifications, reliable methodology, and appropriate fit to testify before a federal jury.

Now that the hearing has concluded, Judge Wolfson will begin her deliberations and ultimately issue an opinion on whether to exclude any particular expert. Given the magnitude and length of briefing in this case, the parties anticipate a decision on expert witnesses, and consequently on whether bellwether trials (test cases) can begin, will take a significant period of time and possibly spill over into next year.


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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and regularly used talcum powder products for feminine hygiene purposes, you should contact Ashcraft & Gerel for a free initial consultation today. The attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel are experienced in handling talcum powder cases, have tried cases in state court, and are leading the overall 13,000+ case MDL in New Jersey.