Hundreds of millions of dollars have been awarded to plaintiffs who have suffered injuries from using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. Although the company has continued to defend the safety of its products, research has shown that talc-based products can dramatically increase the risk ofwhen used for feminine hygiene purposes.
Last week, J&J finally got its way, when one of the multi-million dollar verdicts was reversed. But women who have suffered talcum powder-related injuries should not be discouraged; the reversal had nothing to do with the merit of the case. It had only to do with where the case was tried. Acan help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a defective or dangerous product.
The family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who died in 2015 from ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder for upwards of 35 years, was awarded $72 million in 2016. Although Fox lived in Alabama, her family’s lawsuit joined with dozens of others in the state of Missouri, as part of Multi-district Litigation (MDL) intended to expedite the process.
In a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in June 2017 that courts only have jurisdiction over an out-of-state claim if there exists an “affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State.” Basically, this means that for a personal injury case to be tried in a particular state, the injury had to have occurred in that state, or the company being sued must be headquartered in that state.
J&J used this June ruling to their advantage, appealing the Fox family’s verdict based on the Supreme Court’s determination. Judge Lisa Van Amburg overturned the ruling, saying that: “The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims.” The bottom line is, the case should never have been tried in Missouri. As a result, the judgment has been reversed and vacated. Fox died four months before the trial began. Only two of the plaintiffs in the 65-person lawsuit with Fox were residents of Missouri.
Fox’s family is likely to appeal the decision. Continue reading