As CMBG3 Law recently reported, a Missouri jury in May 2017 returned a $110 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a talcum powder ovarian cancer case. The plaintiff, Louis Slemp, argued that her daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products and Shower to Shower products for 40 years caused her to develop ovarian cancer. Following a seventeen-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in her favor on all her claims, including conspiracy, breach of implied warranty and negligence.
The verdict was appealed by Johnson & Johnson in post-trial motions arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017). In Bristol-Myers, the Supreme Court held that there must be a link between the forum state and the underlying controversy giving rise to the lawsuit. When no such connection exists, jurisdiction is lacking, regardless of the extent of a defendant’s unconnected activities in the state. According to Johnson & Johnson, the Missouri court lacked specific jurisdiction because Ms. Slemp did not use talcum powder in Missouri and was a resident of Virginia, thus there was no link between Missouri and her injuries.
The court held that even though Ms. Slemp was injured in her home state of Virginia, the Missouri court had jurisdiction because the product at issue was manufactured by PharmaTech, a Missouri based company used by Johnson & Johnson to manufacture, label and package the products.
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) or Nicholas Blei (email him or 617-936-4353)