Court tosses out $72 million Johnson & Johnson talcum powder verdict

Missouri appeals court overturns $72M talcum powder verdict

Court tosses out $72 million Johnson & Johnson talcum powder verdict

A Missouri appeals court on Tuesday that vacated a $72 million award to an Alabama woman who claimed her use of Johnson & Johnson products that contained talcum contributed to her ovarian cancer has thrown the fate of awards in similar cases into doubt.

J&J accused the St. Louis courts of being plaintiff-friendly and attempted to get cases brought by out-of-state plaintiffs dismissed.

The verdict was overturned because of a recent Supreme Court ruling on where injury lawsuits can be filed. She was joined by 64 other plaintiffs but only two lived in Missouri.

The panel of three judges at the appeals court in Missouri cited the high court's ruling and the case that involved Fox, who had died four months prior to trial, and was named as one of 65 plaintiffs, only two of whom were residents of Missouri.

Jurors determined Johnson & Johnson to be liable and awarded compensatory damages of $10 million and punitive damages of $62 million.

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The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District said the case over Alabama resident Jacqueline Fox's death should not have been tried in St. Louis. A spokeswoman said after Tuesday's ruling that Johnson & Johnson is confident its appeals will be successful.

Jim Onder, who is representing many plaintiffs in the lawsuits, has argued that Missouri is a proper jurisdiction because Johnson & Johnson packages and distributes some products through Pharma Tech in Missouri.

The Supreme Court said state courts could not hear claims by non-residents who were not injured in that particular state and where the defendant company was not based in that state. The moisture-absorbing product has been on the market since 1893, according to the company website. Her death was from ovarian cancer that they claimed has stemmed from her using the talc-based products of the company.

Studies have linked Johnson & Johnson baby powder - made from talc, which mostly includes magnesium, silicon and oxygen - to cancer. The company is facing more battles in U.S. courts with almost 4,800 outstanding talc lawsuits.

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