Attorneys representing victims in Missouri talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson say they will continue their efforts to keep cases in the state, despite a Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling that stalled the most recent talc case in St. Louis Circuit Court.
Last week, SCOTUS issued an 8-1 decision in a case brought by international pharmaceutical manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb. The Justices ruled that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the injuries cited in the claims did not happen there.
The ruling reversed a California Supreme Court decision that patients from out of state could sue Bristol-Myers Squibb for harm allegedly caused by taking the company’s blood thinner medication, Plavix because other consumers had taken the drug in the state.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Bristol-Myers Squibb case led St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison to declare a mistrial last week in one of the latest talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. The case was the first to consolidate claims for three women from different states (Missouri, Texas, and Virginia), all of whom died of ovarian cancer.
The lawsuit alleges that feminine hygiene use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products caused patients to develop ovarian cancer. Many pending talc powder cancer claims share a similar formula to this case; plaintiffs who do not reside in Missouri filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and talc supplier Imerys, neither of which are based in Missouri.
Since 2016, J&J has been on the losing end of several talc lawsuits filed in St. Louis, with damages awarded to the plaintiffs totaling $300 million. Those verdicts were on appeal, then paused by the appeals court in anticipation of the ruling in the Bristol-Myers Squibb case. Now that SCOTUS has ruled in the case, it is unclear how the previous verdicts in Missouri talcum powder lawsuits will be affected.
St. Louis Circuit Court became the center of the talcum powder litigation because Missouri state law allows for out-of-state plaintiffs to join together and sue in the state. St. Louis Circuit Court allow cases to reach a trial setting faster, which is something of a necessity because many of the plaintiffs in these cases are facing terminal ovarian cancer.
After last week’s SCOTUS decision, talcum powder attorneys say they will be conducting additional discovery and depositions to convince Judge Burlison that these cases should be kept in Missouri. One strategy could be to prove that the talcum powder products used by victims in the litigation went through the state of Missouri during the manufacturing process, which could involve plaintiffs naming other defendants in upcoming suits.
Regardless of the venue for these lawsuits, talcum powder attorneys for the victims believe that the science and the evidence support the plaintiffs.