In a statement, J&J said ithat Monday's decision "is not a determination by the court on the validity of the plaintiff's allegations."
It added that all verdicts against the company in talc lawsuits that had gone through the appeals process have been overturned. J&J denies that its talc causes cancer, saying numerous studies and tests by regulators worldwide have shown its talc to be safe and asbestos-free.
Wolfson's ruling will allow plaintiffs to present expert testimony that talc could be contaminated with asbestos, but prevents them from presenting expert testimony that talc itself causes cancer. Wolfson also ruled that the plaintiffs' experts cannot testify that inhaling talc can travel to the ovaries if inhaled, though they may say that it can reach the ovaries when used vaginally. In so-called multidistrict litigations like the one before Wolfson, in which thousands of lawsuits are consolidated, a handful of cases are designated for early "bellwether" trials, which can help determine the strength of each side's case and aid in settlement. Testimony in such cases typically relies heavily on experts.