Recent talcum-powder cancer rulings
Over 2,000 lawsuits in both state and federal court claim that Johnson & Johnson failed to issue warnings to consumers regarding the risks of cancer from their talc-based products. The suits allege negligence on the grounds that Johnson& Johnson knew for many years that a host of scientific evidence indicated talc to be a potentially cancer-causing substance. Studies dated as far back as 1971 show a link between talc products and ovarian cancer.
Deane Berg was the first person in the United States to file a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson claiming their products caused her ovarian cancer. Doctors discovered talc particles inside the tumors removed from Berg’s body. This led them to believe that talcum powder was a major factor in causing her cancer.
Two class-action lawsuits along with many other individual lawsuits have been filed since the 2013 verdict. Four out of five cases in St. Louis, Missouri were ruled in favor of the plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson. Nearly 1,000 such cases are pending in Missouri. Over 500 are pending in New Jersey, and 300 cases have been consolidated in California’s Superior Court. One recent trial held in Los Angeles during August 2017 awarded a settlement sum of $417 million to the plaintiff against Johnson & Johnson.
Many of these cases have been centered in Missouri. In fact, more have been focused in St. Louis than anywhere else. Missouri law allows people to file suits of this nature without requiring them to live in the state. Plaintiffs have also been doing well there. Missouri juries have upheld ovarian cancer claims several times so far.
Jurisdiction being challenged
This may soon change, however. A Supreme Court ruling issued in June 2017 may change how these cases proceed when brought by out-of-state residents. In this case, the justices ruled that people who claim to have experienced adverse reactions to the blood thinner Plavix couldn’t file suit against the pharmaceutical company who produced the drug in California state court. The decision came after a similar ruling in May dealing with out-of-state injury claims against a railroad company. These cases have set precedents that may impact how these kinds of personal injury cases proceed.
In fact, based upon the ruling involving the blood-thinning drug Plavix, a Missouri appeals court overturned a $72 million verdict in October 2017. The case involved a wrongful death claim brought about by the surviving family members of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products.
Despite this, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case plan to appeal on the grounds that Missouri is the proper jurisdiction, given that a packaging facility for Johnson & Johnson lies in the area.
The largest of these cases so far has been the $417 million awarded in August 2017 by a Los Angeles jury in a California bellwether trial. Over 300 talcum powder injury lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in California. Their cases were all consolidated in Los Angeles Superior Court.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum-based products made by Johnson & Johnson, contact us today.