Law360 (January 6, 2020, 1:17 PM EST) — Johnson & Johnson has ended one of its latest talc trials with a midtrial settlement, a California judge announced Monday, meaning a jury that was one of the first to hear about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration‘s October finding of asbestos in a bottle of talcum powder will have no chance to weigh in on that information.
Alameda County Judge Stephen Kaus made the announcement to the jury as proceedings Monday got underway, telling the jury, “I have some news, which is that the parties have settled their case. … I don’t know what the settlement is; I just know that it’s resolved.”
The parties were not immediately available for comment.
Plaintiffs Linda and Mark O’Hagan said Linda’s mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, was caused by asbestos in J&J baby powder. The trial began Dec. 2, but took a lengthy break for the holidays starting Dec. 20.
The jury heard during opening statements about the FDA’s October announcement that a blind test of J&J talc had found chrysotile asbestos in one sample. The FDA and J&J each announced Oct. 18 that the company would voluntarily recall a large lot of the powder.
J&J later announced that its independent testing by two third-party labs found no asbestos.
The O’Hagan jury had been expected to be one of the first that would be able to directly weigh that information in its deliberations.
O’Hagan was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2018, was given an estimated year and a half to live and has since undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy without managing to stop the spread of the cancer, her lawyer said in opening arguments.
Meanwhile, J&J’s lawyer claimed in openings that O’Hagan’s cancer was not caused by J&J’s products and likely wasn’t caused by asbestos at all.
The case is Linda O’Hagan et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number RG19019699, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.
—By Cara Salvatore Additional reporting by Emily Field and Daniel Siegal. Editing by Jack Karp.