A Georgia company that manufactured Johnson & Johnson talcum powder urged state appellate judges on Wednesday to dismiss as time-barred strict liability claims from a complaint alleging that the powder caused a Georgia woman’s ovarian cancer.
PTI Royston LLC asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to reverse a state trial court’s decision refusing to dismiss three strict liability claims brought as part of a suit filed in December 2019 by Shirley and Richard Eubanks. The trial court held that the clock didn’t begin to run on the Eubankses’ claims until Shirley Eubanks was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, citing the Georgia Asbestos Act of 2007. But Royston contends that a 10-year period for her to file suit began when she started to use the product in 1963.
Shirley Eubanks used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder daily from 1963 until her cancer diagnosis. Royston argues that her strict liability claims thus had to be brought by 1973 under Georgia’s statute of repose, which places a 10-year deadline on such claims from the date of the first sale for use or consumption of the allegedly harmful product.
Roy E. Barnes of The Barnes Law Group LLC, an attorney for the Eubankses, said Johnson & Johnson knew from the 1970s that its talcum powder contained asbestos and that it was harmful, but it didn’t extract the asbestos from its baby powder or put any warning on the bottles.
Royston blended, tested, bottled and packaged Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder at its facility in Royston, Georgia, from August 2005 through 2019.
In 2020, Johnson & Johnson pulled its talc-based baby powder from the United States, but the company still sells it internationally, denying that it is harmful.