Missouri Appeals Court Overturns Talc-Cancer Verdict for Johnson & Johnson

In a Missouri appeals court, this week, Johnson & Johnson succeeded in reversing a previous $72 million verdict which favored the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer, claiming that the talc used in Johnson’s Baby Powder was a primary cause.

Of course, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District simply ruled that this case could not be tried in St. Louis; as described in a new US Supreme Court decision which limits where an injury lawsuit can be filed.  Essentially, you can only file such lawsuits locally.

According to Judge Lisa Van Amburg, regarding her decision: “The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims,” Judge Lisa Van Amburg wrote in her decision.

The new, revised standard, then, reads:  “a non-resident plaintiff must establish an independent basis for specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant in the state.”

The court reached its initial verdict in February of 2016, and it was the first of four jury favors in state court—in St Louis alone—which awarded $307 million to plaintiffs claiming that Johnson & Johnson did not adequately warn consumers about the potential for developing cancer in association with their talc-based products.

Winning a Missouri trial, Johnson & Johnson faces lawsuits issued from roughly 4,800 plaintiffs. Furthermore, the company faces cases in California where a jury had already awarded a woman $417 million; this case was in August.

In addition, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich comments, “In the cases involving non-resident plaintiffs who sued in the state of Missouri, we consistently argued that there was no jurisdiction. We expect the existing verdicts that we are appealing to be reversed.”

And, of course, the company continues to contend there are no links between talc products (like Johnson and & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower) and ovarian cancer. J&J contends there are no links between ovarian cancer and its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower talc products.

At present, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 5,500 talc claims in state and federal courts. Nearly 20 percent of these are in St Louis alone.

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