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Supreme Court Ruling May Affect Talcum Powder Lawsuit Claims

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St. Louis, MOA June 2017 Supreme Court ruling may hurt Missouri lawsuit claims alleging that Johnson & Johnson's talcum products caused ovarian cancer in women who used Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower to Shower for personal hygiene.

Justices ruled 8-1 on June 19, 2017 that hundreds of out-of-state residents aren't allowed to sue Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in California state court over negative reactions to the blood thinner Plavix. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the ruling followed a similar ruling in May involving out-of-state injury claims against BNSF Railway Company.

"Both were seen as wins for companies opposed to 'venue shopping,' in which those filing suit seek out favorable state courts," the Post-Dispatch reported.

Immediately after the ruling, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison declared a mistrial in a Missouri state court case involving three plaintiffs, two from out-of-state, who sued Johnson & Johnson (J & J), claiming the company's talc-based products caused ovarian cancer.

Similar complaints are pending in New Jersey, Delaware and California, and more federal talcum powder lawsuits were consolidated in an October 2016 in a multidistrict litigation in New Jersey, MDL 2738.

More than 1,000 similar lawsuits have been filed in St. Louis against Johnson & Johnson, with most of the plaintiffs living outside Missouri, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In five talcum powder cancer trials against J & J that took place over the past 16 months, jurors awarded more than $300 million combined, the Post-Dispatch reported.

In another case in March 2017, a jury in St. Louis found in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the case of a woman who claimed that Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused her ovarian cancer.

The June high-court ruling could mean that the four St. Louis multi-million-dollar verdict awards may eventually be re-tried.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an e-mail that J & J believes that the Supreme Court ruling "requires reversal of the talc cases that are currently under appeal in St. Louis." 

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