St. Louis Record

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Another ovarian cancer suit filed; J&J continues to defend products


By Sam Knef | Dec 31, 2018

General court 09

JOPLIN — The surviving husband of a Stone County woman who died of ovarian cancer is suing the manufacturer of talcum powder products and the supplier of talc at federal court in the Western District of Missouri.

Like thousands of claims mounting against Johnson & Johnson and supplier Imerys Talc America over Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, plaintiff William Yardley claims his wife Mary Ann Yardley used the products on a daily basis around her vaginal area in accordance with the product instructions, and developed ovarian and peritoneal cancer, diagnosed in December 2015.

Yardley claims his wife was forced to undergo a radical debulking of tumor, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and months of chemotherapy and radiation. The complaint filed Dec. 21 does not indicate when Mary Ann Yardley died.

Missouri courts have been a magnet for ovarian cancer claims against Johnson & Johnson, most notably with a $4.69 billion verdict in July in the St. Louis City Circuit Court, of which $4.14 billion was for punitive damages on behalf of 22 women who claimed its talcum powder contained asbestos that caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson continues to defend its products and fight the claims, taking particular aim at the number of lawsuits filed in St. Louis by plaintiffs who do not live in Missouri.

“Something must be done to reform the system so that out of state plaintiffs stop flocking to St. Louis to take advantage of what plaintiff lawyers have concluded is the most favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs to win big awards,” Peter Bicks previously told the St. Louis Record.

Earlier this month, St. Louis City Circuit Judge Rex Burlison, who has presided over many talcum powder-ovarian cancer trials, upheld the $4.69 billion verdict by denying defense motions to reconsider.

In a statement made to Reuters on Dec. 19, a company spokesperson said, "The same judge has denied similar motions on prior verdicts in his court that were ultimately overturned by the appellate courts. We are confident this verdict will also be overturned on appeal.”

In Yardley's case, he is represented by Kansas City attorney Scott B. Hall of Motley Rice.

Their suit seeks compensatory, punitive and/or exemplary damages "for the wanton, willful, fraudulent, reckless acts of the Defendants who demonstrated a complete indifference to or conscious disregard of the rights of others and for the safety and welfare of the general public and to the Plaintiff in an amount sufficient to punish Defendants and deter future similar conduct," the complaint states.

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U.S. District Court of the Western District of Missouri Joplin Division