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18 Oct, 2017 12:24

Johnson & Johnson wins appeal in $72mn talc cancer risk verdict

Johnson & Johnson wins appeal in $72mn talc cancer risk verdict

A US court on Tuesday overturned a judgment against pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in favor of the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer they claimed stemmed from her use of the company's talc-based products.

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District said the case over Alabama resident Jacqueline Fox's death should not have been tried in St. Louis. The decision is based on a recent US Supreme Court decision which limited where personal injury lawsuits could be filed.

The Supreme Court said state courts could not hear claims by non-residents who were not injured in that particular state and where the defendant company was not based in that state.

A total of $307 million in judgments have been meted out by juries in St. Louis, Missouri, in cases filed by out-of-state residents.

J&J accused the St. Louis courts of being plaintiff-friendly and attempted to get cases brought by out-of-state plaintiffs dismissed.

The 2016 verdict for Fox's family was the first of four jury awards totaling $307 million in state court in St. Louis to plaintiffs who accused J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.

The Missouri appeals court panel cited the Supreme Court’s decision in its ruling over the Fox case, who died four months before trial and who was named as one of 65 plaintiffs in her specific lawsuit, only two of which were Missouri residents.

"The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims," wrote Judge Lisa Van Amburg.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer said the ruling “represents a denial of justice for the Fox family,” adding they were considering an appeal.

Alabama resident Jacqueline Fox died in 2015 at the age of 62. According to the lawyers, she died after using J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 35 years.

The $72 million awarded to Fox's family by jurors included $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

J&J said it is pleased with the ruling. The company is facing more battles in US courts with nearly 4,800 outstanding talc lawsuits.