On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order sustaining Johnson & Johnson’s (“J&J”) last-minute Petition for writ of prohibition to stay the trial in Vickie Forrest et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., Cause No.1522-CC00419-01, pending in the in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri.  Although the Supreme Court sets forth no reasoning for the stay in its one paragraph en banc order, the trial, which was set to start on January 22, 2019, will not take place until the Court weighs in on J&J’s argument that conducting a single trial of multiple claims from multiple Plaintiffs – most of whom had potentially been improperly joined – is unfair to the defendants and even potentially in violation of J&J’s constitutional due process rights. State ex rel. Johnson & Johnson et al. v. The Honorable Rex M. Burlison, Cause No. SC97637. The Forrest case is one of an onslaught of talc cancer cases brought in the St. Louis City Circuit Court on behalf of multiple plaintiffs against J&J.  Forrest, and twelve other women, are alleging that their different subtypes of ovarian or gynecological cancers were caused by their use of J&J’s talcum powder products, which allegedly contained asbestos. Continue Reading MO Supreme Court Grants J& J’s Writ of Prohibition in Talc Cancer Case

Toxic Tort Monitor

January 17, 2018
New Developments
A Review of 2017 Personal Jurisdiction Decisions
By Taylor Concannon

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in cases such as BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California continued the trend that began in Goodyear and Daimler and reaffirmed its limits on personal jurisdiction for corporate defendants. [Continue Reading]

Summary of 2017 Talc Verdicts
By Natalie Holden

After several multi-million dollar verdicts in talc and ovarian cancer trials in 2016, 2017 proved to be a more interesting year, with some plaintiff verdicts and some defense verdicts. There are currently thousands of talc related claims pending across the United States. The defendants in this litigation maintain that the science does not support the claims that personal care powder products cause ovarian cancer. [Continue Reading]

Missouri Court of Appeals Reverses Defense Verdict Finding Trial Court’s Allowance of Four Defense Experts as Cumulative and an Abuse of Discretion
By Natalie Holden and Jen Dlugosz

In Shallow v. Follwell, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, Division Four, held that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting the “unfairly cumulative and prejudicial repetition of expert opinions from [defense] expert witnesses.” [Continue Reading]

Texas Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers
By Joe Ellis, Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden

In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the calculation of exemplary damages awarded under the Texas statute governing the exemplary damages cap to calculate a judgment amount in the case of an employer defendant found grossly negligent where the deceased employee claimed exposure to asbestos. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

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Product Liability Monitor

December 4, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Adopts Daubert: What It Means in Product Liability Cases
By Theresa Mullineaux

In March 2017, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed House Bill 153, which amended Mo. Rev. Stat. § 490.065, and effectively adopted Daubert standards for Missouri cases, effective in August 2017. As a result, Missouri now follows similar standards to those applied in Federal courts and the majority of other state courts for expert evidence.[1] HB 153 establishes a four factor standard: [Continue Reading]

Defending Depositions
By Alan Hoffman

A previous post discussed preparing witnesses for their depositions. After a witness has been prepared for deposition it is the lawyer’s job to protect the witness, the client, and the record—a task that has many challenges, perils and pitfalls, but particularly so in products cases which often involve complicated design, risk-benefit, “safety” and warnings issues. Here are some suggestions for product lawyers and witnesses. [Continue Reading]

The Ninth Circuit versus CAFA’s Removal Provisions in Products Liability Litigation
By Soham Desai

The 2005 Class Action Fairness Act created federal jurisdiction based on minimum diversity for certain class and mass actions in an effort to preclude artfully maneuvering to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Actions with at least 100 plaintiffs, minimal diversity between the parties, and an amount in controversy exceeding $5 million dollars may be removed to federal court. In response, plaintiffs’ attorneys began subdividing their cases into groups of less than 100 plaintiffs in order to avoid removal under CAFA. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
November 2017

 

Product Liability Monitor

March 9, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Products Law: Are The Times A-Changin’?
By Joe Guffey

Missouri, the home of Mark Twain and Harry S Truman, has in recent years become one of the most deeply red states politically. Yet it has also acquired a reputation as of one of the most plaintiff friendly forums nationally, thanks to its substantive law and to juries in the City of St. Louis (dubbed the Number 1 “Judicial Hellhole” by the defense-oriented American Tort Reform Association for 2017).Some of that may be about to change following the 2016 election of Republican former Navy Seal Eric Greitens as Governor and heavy Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate. Several bills are now pending in the Legislature which could bring about significant changes in Missouri product liability law and practice. [Continue Reading]

Immunity for Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturers?
By Mark Pratzel

As autonomous automobile vehicle (AV) technology develops new legal issues and challenges continue to appear. An issue that has led to much debate is the potential impact of lawsuits, which some contend could hamper the growth of AV technology. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning? Criteria and Application
By Dan Jaffe

Many courts have stated criteria for determining the adequacy of product safety warnings. The Tennessee Supreme Court established a particularly useful 5-part test in Pittman v Upjohn Co., 890 S.W.2d 425, 429 (Tenn. 1994).  As recently re-stated by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
February 2017

Product Liability Monitor

December 13, 2016
New Developments
Auto Manufacturers Partner with Nauto to Improve Driverless Car Technology
By Shannon Peters

One of the main obstacles to the autonomous vehicle industry is “infrastructure,” but not in the sense typically associated with the term. Since autonomous vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, and powertrain types (gasoline, electric, and hybrid), and a wide range of degree of automation, the key infrastructure issue is not with the roads or the need for a worldwide network of guidance wires, rails, or charging stations, but ensuring the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into the world of human drivers.  Enter “Nauto.” [Continue Reading]

Confidentiality and the Public Interest
By Dan Jaffe

Public Justice, a public interest advocacy organization, recently posted over one million pages of Remington Arms Company internal documents on a publically available searchable online database. These documents concern the “Walker” trigger mechanism of the Remington Model 700 rifle, which has been the subject of more than 100 lawsuits, and is allegedly implicated in at least 24 deaths. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning?
By Alan Hoffman

In Miasa Barron, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., the Missouri Court of Appeals recently affirmed a verdict by a St. Louis jury awarding $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million punitive damages for birth defects caused by the antiepileptic drug Depakote.  While there were other issues, the central liability question was whether Abbott adequately warned about the dangers of birth defects from using Depakote during pregnancy. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
November 2016

 

Product Liability Monitor

November 8, 2016
New Developments
Does Talc Cause Cancer? Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom
By Alan Hoffman

This year juries returned verdicts totaling nearly $200 million in three Missouri cases claiming that ovarian cancers is caused by using talcum powder products. By contrast, in September a New Jersey Superior Court excluded expert opinions offered to support such claims and granted defense motions for summary judgment in two pending cases. What scientific evidence is there concerning the causal connection, or lack of it, between talc use and ovarian cancer? [Continue Reading]

Autonomous Vehicles and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
By Eric B. Krauss

The Three Laws of Robotics are not laws in the traditional sense. They are neither rules passed by a community to regulate its members nor scientific facts proven by observation to govern natural phenomena, but rather a work of literature, devised by science fiction author Isaac Asimov. These “laws” reflect common-sense maxims for human relationships: that people should not harm others; that they should obey the standards of their communities; and that people should not engage in self-destructive behavior.  The difference between humans and computers is that humans have free will, while computer behavior is governed by software and programming devised by humans.[Continue Reading]

Court Dismisses the Sandy Hook Shooting Suit
By Dan Jaffe

On October 14, 2016 Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed the Sandy Hook shooting victims’ suit against Remington Arms Company and Bushmaster Firearms International. Judge Bellis held that the plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901, et seq. (PLCAA), and did not fall within any exception to immunity from liability set forth in the PLCAA. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
October 2016

 

Toxic Tort Monitor

March 1, 2016
New Developments
Jury Awards $72 Million in Talc-related Cancer Case in St. Louis
By Jen Dlugosz

Last week, a St. Louis jury awarded $72 million to the family of a victim who alleged that her ovarian cancer was caused by personal use talcum powder. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years. [Continue Reading]

District Court in Wisconsin Rules State’s Statute of Repose Does Not Bar Asbestos Claims in Lawsuit
By Jenna Marie Stupar

The Eastern District of Wisconsin started 2016 off with a decision sure to impact the asbestos litigation world. In Ahnert v. Employers Insurance Company of Wausau et al., the District Court ruled that Wisconsin’s Statute of Repose did not foreclose the plaintiff from bringing asbestos-related claims against the defendants and denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Case No. 13-C-1456 (Jan. 6, 2016, E.D. Wis). [Continue Reading]

Notable Take-Home Asbestos Exposure Developments
By Lindsay McClure-Hartman

In the later-half of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, there have been some notable state court decisions on the issues of product and premises liability for secondary or “take-home” exposure to asbestos. Depending on the state, different tests for determining liability are applied, however, the recent decisions discussed below help shed light on how state courts are currently thinking about take-home asbestos exposure cases. [Continue Reading]

Trio of Personal Jurisdiction Motions Denied in Saint Louis City and Madison County
By David D. Dean

In 2015, three foreign corporation asbestos defendants saw their attempts to obtain dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction denied by circuit court judges in Saint Louis City, Missouri, and Madison County, Illinois. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Jen Dlugosz is a Jen Dlugosztoxic tort and product liability litigator in the firm’s Chicago office. She manages day-to-day operations of cases, working closely with clients and co-counsel to develop and implement overall defense strategies. Jen has served as national coordinating counsel for toxic tort claims and defended clients in repetitive litigation and pre-litigation claims stemming from product liability issues and recalls.
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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Asbestos Practice
Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]
Upcoming Events
DRI – Toxic Torts and Environmental Law
March 17-18, 2016
New Orleans, LA

Several of our toxic tort litigators are attending this DRI seminar; we hope to see you there!

Talc, the mineral from which talcum powder is made, is rather innocuous by itself. However, because its chemical makeup and geologic formation is similar to tremolite, a form of asbestos, deposits of the two substances often are located near each other.  This proximity creates the possibility for contamination of the talc, and plaintiff’s attorneys are taking advantage of that possibility. Continue Reading Talc Cases May Signal Next Wave of Asbestos Claims