Talcum Powder MDL: Special Master Assigned to Oversee Discovery

talcum powder MDL special master

A special master has been assigned to oversee discovery in the talcum powder MDL related to litigation alleging J & J’s talc-based products cause ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. 

Retired U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano will settle all disputes related to discovery in J&J Talcum Powder MDL 2738, according to an order issued by U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson.  Judge Pisano has previously overseen a range of civil and criminal cases during his judicial career, including an MDL that consolidated a number of lawsuits filed over Merck’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax. Judge Pisano was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey as well as being appointed as U.S. District Judge by Bill Clinton. He retired from the judiciary in 2015 after more than 20 years spent on the federal bench and is now in private practice.

Special masters are often appointed by the court in multidistrict litigations to monitor and adjudicate discovery issues and help facilitate the settlement of cases on a continuing basis. They often hear appeals in situations where plaintiffs may dispute the settlement value of a particular case. 

Talcum Powder MDL

The J&J talc-ovarian cancer lawsuits were consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in October 2016, and make common allegations concerning whether talc-based powders cause ovarian or uterine cancer, whether J&J knew or should have known about the connection between the company’s talc products and cancer, and whether the company sufficiently warned consumer about the associated risks. 

In other developments related to the talcum powder litigation, women involved in the MDL last month said that they should be allowed to obtain samples of J&J’s talcum powder products that are alleged to cause cancer, claiming that there is no proof that they will be destroyed in testing. The move is seen as a strike back against J&J’s attempt to prevent parties from trying to obtain samples of the company’s talcum powder products. The women have not yet formally requested the samples, and are still discussing what types of testing should be used, how many tests are necessary, and how much of the talc will be required in the samples.  

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