A New Jersey state judge has rejected Johnson & Johnson’s attempt to block the deposition of the company’s former communications director by a group of women who claim the company’s baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.
Superior Court Judge John C. Porto said it didn’t matter so much that John McKeegan hasn’t worked for the pharmaceutical giant in almost two decades or that he’s already been deposed in a few other talcum powder-related lawsuits.
In granting the plaintiffs’ request to depose McKeegan, Judge Porto said the women who claim that J&J failed to warn them the talc was contaminated with asbestos and caused them cancer have a new “theory” regarding their lawsuit and would present unique questions to McKeegan.
Named plaintiff Vickie Forrest was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2012. She filed an amended complaint, along with several other women, against the company in 2018 in St. Louis, where she lives. In Forrest’s case, a jury found in favor of the company in 2019, saying it did not need to warn consumers of dangers associated with the powder. But the other women who also sued under the same case name still have viable lawsuits and are proceeding in a St. Louis court.
The plaintiffs filed a motion in St. Louis to subpoena McKeegan, which was then forwarded to the New Jersey court because he lives in the Garden State.
This will be at least the fourth time McKeegan, who directed communications for J&J from 2000 to 2002 and worked as a manager in communications from 1997 to 1999, will face questions in talc-related litigation.
The plaintiffs pointed to emails that indicated McKeegan was “very involved in talc issues” during his roughly four years at J&J. They added that they would be covering some new ground through questions that had not been posed before. They also argued it’s hardly burdensome to hop onto a Zoom call.
J&J has faced a number of lawsuits across the country related to allegations its talc caused cancer. Most notably, it failed last month to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review its challenge of a $2.1 billion verdict awarded to two dozen women who blamed the purported asbestos in its talcum powder for their ovarian cancer.