Johnson & Johnson scores latest talc trial win as case count reaches 15,500

Johnson & Johnson's talc case count continues to climb, reaching more than 15,000 after the second quarter of 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

As Johnson & Johnson awaits the results of a high-stakes talc hearing, the company has scored its latest trial win.  

A Kentucky jury rejected claims that talc products from J&J and Colgate-Palmolive contained asbestos and caused plaintiff Donna Hayes to develop mesothelioma. It was the first case to reach a jury verdict in the state, and the panel deliberated for just 30 minutes. 

J&J spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said the company is “pleased” with the decision. It’s the sixth trial win for J&J in recent months, and every other loss the company has suffered has been overturned in appeals, she said.

That track record is "consistent with the decades of clinical evidence and scientific studies by medical experts around the world that support the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” Montagnino added.

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But the drugmaker has suffered some losses in the high-profile litigation as well. Last summer, a St. Louis jury ordered J&J to pay $4.69 billion after a trial that combined the claims of 22 plaintiffs. Other recent losses include verdicts worth $325 million and $25 million in California and New York, respectively. J&J has said it plans to appeal each loss.

Meanwhile, the drugmaker is hoping to sidestep the majority of its remaining 15,500 talc cases following a hearing that recently concluded. At the Daubert hearing that started in late July, J&J challenged expert evidence the plaintiffs aim to present at trial. A judge’s decision on the arguments will decide the outcome in most of the remaining cases. 

If the court decides the plaintiffs' expert evidence can't be used in court, then "there's nowhere for these cases to go," a lawyer for J&J previously told the Wall Street Journal. A decision from the hearing is expected soon. 

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson aims to torpedo thousands of talc cases with one high-stakes hearing 

As that issue plays out, another talc trial is underway in New Jersey, and others are set to start this month in California, Courtroom View Network reports.  

J&J faces about 15,500 cases alleging harm from talc, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the SEC. Colgate faced 237 talc cases at the end of June, it said in a SEC filing.