New York’s specialized court for asbestos lawsuits could become a pivotal battleground for litigation over talcum powder as plaintiff lawyers seek to establish a record of wins in a court system known for liberal rules and big jury verdicts.

Talc manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive and their wholesale suppliers insist their products are free from deadly asbestos. But plaintiffs have won two talc trials so far in NYCAL, as the asbestos court is known, and Johnson & Johnson in December settled a third case for a reported $1.5 million after both Reuters and the New York Times ran lengthy stories detailing allegations the company knew about asbestos contamination in its talcum powder.

Johnson & Johnson described that settlement with Texas attorney Mark Lanier as a “one-off” situation and said it plans to vigorously defend the more than 9,000 cases it still faces. It lost a $4.7 billion jury verdict in St. Louis, now on appeal, but won a jury trial in New Jersey in October after unveiling an aggressive new strategy of criticizing the case against it as “a sham created by plaintiffs’ lawyers.”

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Categories: The Law