The coronavirus outbreak has touched virtually every aspect of our lives, including our court system. On March 18, a New Jersey state court declared it was delaying proceedings in a case against American International Industries, the parent company for talc-product manufacturer Clubman.
In the lawsuit, two hairdressers, Margaret Lashley and Dwayne Johnson, seek justice for their exposure to asbestos in Clubman brand’s cosmetic talc products they used in a barbershop. The plaintiffs claim that this exposure caused their fatal cancer.
Talc Trials’ Busy Season Comes to a Halt
The complaint’s significance lies in that it initiated the first cosmetic-talc-related trial in New Jersey against a company other than Johnson & Johnson or Colgate-Palmolive. Now the matter has been put on hold at a time when COVID-19 presses on with its stranglehold on court dockets nationwide.
This spring was slated to come alive with talc trials, but state by state, home quarantines are forcing courts to halt proceedings for jury trials.
Los Angeles County trials, including the jurisdiction’s first talc/mesothelioma trials, initially faced a delay of three days but will likely endure further postponements.
Georgia’s retrial of its first cosmetic talc case also will likely take a hit from the coronavirus. Set on the dockets for early in April, the trial will probably be postponed.
Johnson & Johnson enjoys a temporary reprieve from the first cosmetic talc trial in Illinois, wherein the corporate giant is named as a defendant. This trial will not occur until May, due to the virus outbreak. It’s not the first break Johnson & Johnson has caught in these matters. In the spring of 2019, the company managed to put the brakes on thousands of pending trials after talc supplier Imerys filed for bankruptcy. The move adds to the current build-up of cases, which courts were forced to reschedule for this spring.
This time around, when courts get the go-ahead to resume their activities, talc trials will compete against other postponed civil and criminal matters for their place on court dockets.
Roundup, Opioid Trials Also Put on Pause
Several other trials that plaintiffs have waited in great anticipation also feel the hit of the coronavirus outbreak:
Bayer/Monsanto: The Missouri state court trial related to Roundup, the weed killer whose glyphosate ingredient is blamed for causing the plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will perhaps be postponed for after its original March 30 date.
GlaxoSmithLine: A Massachusetts federal court bellwether trial against the Zofran medication maker has been delayed. Originally slated for May 4, the plaintiffs who claim the product caused birth defects will need to wait for the trial to be rescheduled.