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St. Louis Jury Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $4.14 Billion to Talcum Powder Victims


Johnson & Johnson continues to rack up defeats–at least with juries–as the pharmaceutical giant recently lost another talcum powder case in Missouri. In mid-July, a jury sitting in St. Louis found Johnson & Johnson’s popular baby powder caused 22 women to develop ovarian cancer. The jury ordered the company to pay $550 million in compensatory damages to the victims–and an additional $4.14 billion in compensatory damages. It is reportedly the largest talcum powder verdict against Johnson & Johnson to date.

To nobody’s surprise, Johnson & Johnson refused to recognize the verdict and insisted the jury acted “based on their emotions and sympathies,” according to an internal corporate document obtained and published by the Economic Times of India. The document further complained that “[j]ury verdicts are not medical, scientific, or regulatory conclusions” regarding talcum powder.

Michael Ullmann, Johnson & Johnson’s general counsel, further told the press that the jury’s $4.14 billion verdict “was the product of a fundamentally unfair process.”

Why Talcum Powder Verdicts Are Overturned on Appeal

Unfortunately, Ullmann’s complaint may carry water on appeal. One issue that keeps coming up in talcum powder cases is the residency of the victims. This case, for example, was filed in Missouri state court, yet apparently most of the victims were not Missouri residents, and Johnson & Johnson itself is not based in the state. This is a problem because of a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision that restricts the ability of state courts to hear product liability lawsuits against out-of-state companies where the plaintiffs’ injuries did not occur in that state.

In fact, just a couple weeks before this most recent St. Louis talcum powder judgment, the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned another jury verdict in favor of another group of ovarian cancer victims, specifically because of this residency issue. In the earlier case, Ristesund v. Johnson & Johnson, 63 of the 65 plaintiffs lived outside Missouri. The lead plaintiff was a South Dakota woman. Based on the Supreme Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals said these plaintiffs could not establish “personal jurisdiction” over Johnson & Johnson in the Missouri courts. As a result, the appellate court had to toss out a $50 million verdict.

Get Help from a Tennessee Talcum Powder Lawsuit Attorney

It is important to emphasize the Court of Appeals decision was purely based on a procedural question. And even if this most recent multi-billion dollar judgment is overturned for similar reasons, it does not represent a rejection of the plaintiffs’ evidence or impugn the motives of the jury’s credibility or effectiveness. As we all know, the law can get quite complicated–especially when it comes to cases involving product liability–and sometimes a decision is not about the facts.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Johnson & Johnson will go to extraordinary links to deny any link between their talcum powder products and ovarian cancer. So if you suspect such a link resulted in your own cancer, you need to be proactive. The experienced Tennessee talcum powder attorneys at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette can review your situation and help you decide if you have a case. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation.




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