Johnson & Johnson talcum powder case stalled until U.S. Supreme Court ruling

By Michael McGrady | May 18, 2017

ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District has opted out of providing an opinion on a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson with more than $72 million in liability at stake until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether or not plaintiffs from out of state can bring claims to a specific jurisdiction.

For the current case, Fox, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., the three-judge appeals panel will only reopen proceedings when the higher court rules on Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California. In this case, the question at hand is whether or not the California judicial system can have a jurisdiction to litigate a case involving several legal actions regarding the heart medication Plavix and Bristol-Myers Squibb, HarrisMartin reports. There are around 600 respondents that are non-residents in these actions. Under the U.S. Constitution, the current state of the Squibb case exceeds the maximum allowed under the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 410.10.

“This didn’t come as a surprise to us at all,” William Wylie Blair, an attorney for Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson LLC in St. Louis, told the St. Louis Record. “Obviously, the United States Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land and the appellate court is required to follow the directive of the Supreme Court. So, it makes sense.”

In the case pertaining to Johnson & Johnson, Jacqueline Fox, before she died, filed a complaint alleging that through the extended use of the company’s talcum powder products, during 1953 to 2013, she developed ovarian cancer. The development of cancer, which was allegedly linked to the use of the Johnson & Johnson talc, took place in the states of Alabama and Georgia during the present timeline. Fox died as the initial legal proceedings began.

Later, a St. Louis jury found in favor for a personal representative of Fox’s estate and awarded more than $72 million in relief. After that trial, counsel for Johnson & Johnson filed a motion for a judgment to be made in spite of the verdict and a motion for a new trial, as well. However, those motions were denied, thus bringing the current appeal from Johnson & Johnson.

Counsel for Johnson & Johnson declined to comment. The company, in this case, is represented by Armstrong Teasdale’s Thomas Weaver, William Ray Price Jr., Jeffery McPherson, Gene Williams and Scott Hames of Shook, Hardy, & Bacon LLP; as well as Gerard Noce and Beth Bauer of HelperBroom LLC and Mark Hegarty, also of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.

Blair, with Stephanie Rados of Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson LLC, serve as counsel for the Estate of Jacqueline Fox with Edward Robertson Jr., Mary Winter, and Anthony Dewitt of Bartimus, Frickleton and Robertson PC.

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