Missouri court throws out $72M million verdict in Johnson & Johnson talc case

By Allen Cone  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 2:08 PM
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Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Missouri Court of Appeals threw out a judgement against Johnson & Johnson that would have sent $72 million to a woman's family who claimed she died of ovarian cancer from contact with the company's talcum baby powder.

The Missouri Eastern District's Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled the state was not the proper jurisdiction because the 62-year-old woman was from Birmingham, Ala. The three justices unanimously said it "declines to remand the case" to the lower court.

The judges cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that ruled the plaintiff's claims must have a connection to the state where the lawsuit is filed.

In February 2016, a Circuit Court jury in St. Louis ordered the company to pay the family $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Jacqueline Fox, 62, died four months before the trial.

Fox believed she had been using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products for more than 25 years. She was among 65 plaintiffs, including only two from Missouri, who joined in the lawsuit.

In three other St. Louis jury verdicts, more than than $200 million total was awarded against the New Jersey-based healthcare giant. Plaintiffs were from California, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia, and all but one prevailed.

Studies have linked Johnson & Johnson baby powder -- made from talc, which mostly includes magnesium, silicon and oxygen -- to cancer. The moisture-absorbing product has been on the market since 1893, according to the company website.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement "we consistently argued that there was no jurisdiction and we expect the existing verdicts that we are appealing to be reversed."

Fox's lawyer Jim Onder, who represents plaintiffs in similar pending cases, argued that Johnson & Johnson packages and labels some products in Missouri.

Onder told the Post-Dispatch he was disappointed by the decision but "optimistic that the Missouri Supreme Court will find otherwise."

Johnson & Johnson faces 5,500 claims in U.S. courts.

In August, a Los Angeles jury on Monday awarded $417 million to a 62-year-old California woman who blamed the company's talc powder for her ovarian cancer.

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