Johnson & Johnson is trying to convince a Missouri appellate court that combining 22 women’s ovarian cancer claims into one trial was simply unfair, Law360 reported. In June 2018, a jury awarded the women a combined $4.69 billion in damages after finding that Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower body powder and other talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen, and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
The jury awarded each woman or married couple $25 million in compensatory damages, plus $4.14 billion in total punitive damages, of which Johnson & Johnson was hit with $3.15 billion and J&J Consumer Inc. was saddled with $990 million.
The trial, led by plaintiff Gail Ingram, was the first of the talc trials in St. Louis Circuit Court to include multiple plaintiffs. Several previous trials in that courtroom resulted in multi-million-dollar verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs. J&J is arguing that having so many plaintiffs was, at its core, unfair to the consumer health care giant.
The company was to face another multi-plaintiff talc trial involving 13 women, but the Missouri Supreme Court stayed the case in January 2019 to consider whether it should be handled one plaintiff at a time.
J&J is also taking issue with whether 17 of the 22 women could even be a part of the trial since they were not residents of Missouri. If the appellate court decides to vacate the verdict, those 17 plaintiffs could be sent back for individual trials.
St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison had given the 17 nonresident plaintiffs in the Ingram case the opportunity to prove personal jurisdiction. They did so by testifying that they had used Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower Shimmer Effects body power that for four years was packaged by Missouri-based Pharma Tech.
Beasley Allen has been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene. The firm continues to investigate these cases. For information, contact Ted Meadows, who heads up Beasley Allen’s Talc Litigation team, and Leigh O’Dell, who serves as co-lead counsel in the talc federal multidistrict litigation.