JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Sen. Ed Emery told the St. Louis Record he's optimistic that Senate Bill 7, which aims to put a limit on large awards for cases where multiple plaintiffs combine lawsuits, will pass in the state's House of Representatives.
SB 7 was already successful in the Senate as it passed on a 24-7 vote.
The legislation is partly driven by a verdict in St. Louis City Circuit Court where 22 women were awarded $4.7 billion on claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder led to them being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Many of the plaintiffs in that case were not Missouri residents.
Emery said he believes the bill will be green-lighted in the House with few changes.
Missouri Sen. Ed Emery
“I expect it to pass the House in its present form or very near it,” Emery told the St. Louis Record. “The Missouri Supreme Court opinion issued on Feb. 13, Johnson & Johnson v. Burlison, has directed the standard that is consistent with 40 years of jurisprudence. Any impact on the courts (and I do not agree it will be significant) will be the result of the St. Louis city courts' sustained misapplication of joinder and venue.”
He pointed out while there were 13,252 civil litigant plaintiffs in St. Louis courts, only 242 were residents of St. Louis and only 1,035 were residents of Missouri.
“It is therefore hard to visualize how the Supreme Court opinion will slow down the courts and increase costs,” he said.
In the case Emery referenced, Johnson & Johnson wanted to stop the St. Louis City Circuit Court from taking any more steps other than severing a non resident's claims. It wanted to transfer Michael Blaes’ claims to St. Louis County court, where Blaes alleged he and his wife experienced injury.
Blaes sued Johnson & Johnson over allegations his wife died from ovarian cancer after using the company’s products. The Supreme Court determined the lower court erred when it overruled Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc American Inc.'s motions to disconnect the claims and transfer them to the county court, which the Supreme Court said was the proper court.