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Missouri judge upholds $110 million talc verdict

[JURIST] A Missouri judge on Wednesday upheld [opinion, PDF] the $110 million jury award in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and talc supplier Imerys Talc.

The suit alleged [Reuters report] that four decades of using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder products resulted in 62 year-old Lois Slemp's ovarian cancer diagnosis.

In May, the St. Louis Circuit Court jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching a verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc. This ruling was called into question following the US Supreme Court's decision in the Bristol Myers Squibb case [JURIST report] to implement more "stringent jurisdictional standards for lawsuits filed by out-of-state plaintiffs." In spite of of their client's Virginia residency, Slemp's attorneys argued that the Missouri court was the appropriate avenue to try the two companies because of their connection with Pharma Tech Industries, a Union, Missouri-based company that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc uses to label, package, and distribute their products.

Judge Burlison agreed:

This Court, however, believes this case is not in such advance posture so as to prohibit a review of jurisdictional facts. Importantly, this Court's previous denials of Defendants' motions to dismiss, and the appellate courts' denials of writs relating to personal jurisdiction, pretermitted any need or opportunity for Plaintiffs to produce any further evidence of Defendants' Missouri activities and relevant acts that may have established personal jurisdiction under the Bristol-Myers standard. [...] Upon review of the record and the standard as enunciated in Bristol Myers, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently established that specific person jurisdiction exists.
There are more than 3,000 lawsuits [Bloomberg report] pending against Johnson & Johnson. People around the country are accusing the health care company of not only ignoring the scientific data linking its talcum powder based products to ovarian cancer but for failing to warn their customers about the risk of continued use of talcum powder.

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