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The Latest on the Johnson & Johnson Talc and False Advertising Legal Saga

A class action lawsuit pertaining to alleged false advertising from a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary appeared to be dead in the water up until recent weeks.  A federal judge in California had granted the corporate giant’s subsidiary’s request for the dismissal of the proposed class action lawsuit.  The lawsuit alleged this subsidiary broke consumer protection laws by failing to warn the public that its talcum products had harmful asbestos and also falsely advertised supposed product merits.  The plaintiffs who brought this legal action, Debbie Luna and Louisa Gutierrez, will be given the opportunity to prove the allegations that they and other consumers were harmed through the supposed false advertising.

Details of the Lawsuit

Luna and Gutierrez insist Johnson & Johnson along with Bausch Health US, a group that bought the Shower to Shower product line from Johnson & Johnson back in 2012, violated an array of California laws.  In particular, it is alleged these companies violated California’s False Advertising Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act. 

The plaintiffs initially insisted Johnson & Johnson was in violation of Proposition 65, a state law pertaining to state carcinogen warning labels.  However, the plaintiffs ended up scrapping these claims in the complaint when Johnson & Johnson attorneys successfully argued the plaintiffs did not fully comply with the presuit notice requirements of the law.

The Judge’s Decision

The 19-page order issued by United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw denied the plaintiff’s argument that it was unnecessary to provide Johnson & Johnson and Bausch with the presuit notice.  The judge sided with the defendants, stating the fact that a similar lawsuit filed against them in the state of California two years ago did not eliminate the need for providing a presuit notice.

Luna and Gutierrez argued there was no need to provide the companies named in the lawsuit with a presuit notice as they were taking legal action in the form of a claim that is fully independent from Proposition 65.  The judge determined this argument had some merit.  However, the judge dismissed the claim that the defendants did not properly warn customers of the supposed asbestos along with other carcinogens in talcum containing the allegations in Proposition 65. 

The Timeline of Supposed Illegal Conduct and Relation to the Plaintiffs

The judge also ruled the claim that Johnson & Johnson falsely advertised these products as being completely safe and void of asbestos could remain.  The exception is the claim that the company engaged in a scheme of misleading advertising across several decades, stating this claim was excessively vague.  The judge stated the allegations pertaining to supposed illegal conduct stretched more than 20 years from the 70s to the 90s.

Another Chance for Johnson & Johnson Talc Customers

The judge provided the plaintiffs with the opportunity to amend their allegations to possibly show how Johnson & Johnson’s advertising personally impacted them as opposed to the general public across the forementioned timespan.  It is likely the plaintiffs will add additional detail to their allegations in an ensuing amended complaint, including specific information about Johnson & Johnson ads that were allegedly deceptive or otherwise misleading.

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