Last year, a St. Louis city jury sent shock waves across the world, awarding 22 plaintiffs nearly $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over claims its asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused ovarian cancer in women who used the company’s product for years in the case of Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 1522-CC10417 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis City July 12, 2018). Prior to trial, Imerys Talc America Inc., a co-defendant supplier of talc to Johnson & Johnson, settled plaintiffs’ claims for at least $5 million.[1]

While previous ovarian cancer trials hinged on arguments that talc itself is carcinogenic, plaintiffs in Ingham argued their cancer was caused by asbestos particles mixed in with the talc. The impact of this verdict and similar previous decisions across the country has been damaging enough to prompt talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc., to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing a lack of financial clout to defend lawsuits alleging that Imerys’ talc caused ovarian cancer or asbestos-related mesothelioma.[2]
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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.
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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

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

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),

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

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.
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