BELLEVILLE, IL — Judge Christopher Kolker issued contempt-of-court orders against Johnson & Johnson and Dr. Susan Nicholson, J&J vice president of women’s health, for her failure to appear in court today in the continuation of the latest trial over allegations that the long-term use of J&J’s talc-based baby powders can cause ovarian cancer.
After issuing the contempt orders, Judge Kolker struck all previous testimony by Dr. Nicholson and advised the jury to disregard her comments, stating on the record that he did not find her to be a credible witness. At the conclusion of Friday’s hearing, over the objections of J&J’s defense counsel, Dr. Nicholson was ordered to appear and resume cross-examination testimony as a defense witness.
The trial involves the claims of former St. Clair County resident Elizabeth Driscoll, a longtime user of J&J’s powders who died in September 2016 after an 18-month battle with ovarian cancer. The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Ms. Driscoll’s sister, Colleen Cadagin, as a representative of Ms. Driscoll’s estate.
“Plain and simple, J&J tried to bully this jury and this judge,” says Jere Beasley of the Beasley Allen law firm, which is representing Ms. Cadigan. “As the biggest bully on the Big Pharma block, J&J will try anything to avoid responsibility for how it has poisoned thousands of women. J&J is a company that has lost its way and, in the process, turned on its own customers.”
Dozens of peer-reviewed medical studies published in the last 35 years have found a statistically significant correlation between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. Further research has demonstrated that talc particles, when applied to the perineal area for feminine hygiene, can migrate to the ovaries and result in inflammation and related malignancies.
This is the first of several trials involving talc–ovarian cancer claims scheduled for this year in venues across the nation as courts begin reopening after being closed because of COVID-19. In addition, testimony is scheduled to begin in April 2022 in multidistrict litigation in New Jersey federal court, which has consolidated more than 30,000 ovarian cancer claims against J&J.
In May 2020, J&J announced that it would no longer make or market talc-based powders for the North American market.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear J&J’s appeal of a $2.1 billion judgment against J&J entered by the Missouri Court of Appeals and upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court. That appellate court found that J&J had engaged in “reprehensible conduct” for decades by repeatedly denying the known association between talc use and ovarian cancer.