On February 24, 2016, the first jury verdict in a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit returned in favor of the plaintiff, Jacqueline Fox. The Missouri jury awarded the plaintiff $72 million in damages. Johnson & Johnson, who the jury found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, appealed the decision to the Missouri Appellate Court. In light of two rulings by the United States Supreme Court from June of 2017, however, the Missouri Appellate Court requested that the parties submit briefs by July 5, 2017 on the issue of whether Ms. Fox’s case should proceed in Missouri courts at all.
The United States Supreme Court’s rulings both addressed whether plaintiffs can bring lawsuits in states in which the plaintiffs and defendants have little or no connection. The Supreme Court’s rulings made it clear that in cases where the plaintiffs do not reside in the state in which the lawsuit was commenced, where defendant companies have little connection to the state, and in which the actions that led to the alleged injuries did not take place in the state of the lawsuit, plaintiffs will not be permitted to “forum shop” to find the most favorable state in which to file a lawsuit.
In the Fox case, the plaintiff was a resident of Alabama and allegedly used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products in Alabama. The injury to Ms. Fox therefore allegedly occurred in Alabama. In light of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, the Missouri Appellate Court will examine whether any Missouri court has jurisdiction over Ms. Fox’s claims.
Those following the ongoing talcum powder litigation will closely watch the decision of the Missouri Appellate Court, as a ruling in favor of Johnson & Johnson could significantly reduce the number of cases pending on the “talc docket” in St. Louis, Missouri, as it is estimated that less than one-fifth of the plaintiffs that filed cases on the docket actually reside in or were injured in the state of Missouri. A ruling in favor of Johnson & Johnson could disperse the talcum powder cases to other states in the country, many of which do not currently have any pending talcum powder cases.
The attorneys at CMBG3 Law LLC have represented clients in talc, products liability, and toxic tort matters for many years. We provide the most current advice by staying informed of legal, scientific and medical developments regarding a wide variety of substances and products, including talc-containing products, used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact John Gardella (email him or 617-936-4353, ext. 204).