NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Supreme Court of Missouri case talks can reduce liability and the number of major attempts Johnson & Johnson are facing claiming that talc products, including baby powder, cause cancer.
FILOT PHOTO: Bottles of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder line a pharmacy shelf in New York on October 15, 2015. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson
The government is likely to give some respite to the health conglomerate when it comes to increasing pressure over the safety of its talk products, said some defense lawyers. In its annual report, the company announced on Wednesday that it had received applications from the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with speech issues.
However, some of the plaintiffs' lawyers played down the impact of the raising.
There was a trial in the St. Louis 22nd Circuit Court, collected by 21 plaintiffs from outside the city, whose cases were linked to a single St. Louis resident, who in July produced a record $ 4.69 billion talc against J & J. The company faces several more such lawsuits in St. Louis.
But on 13 February, Missouri's Supreme Court ruled in a separate speech case that allowed a non-resident to participate in the merged case, "a clear and direct breach" of state law that precludes the use of interconnection – combining two or more cases – letting the courts hear things they couldn't otherwise do.
Most state courts can only hear cases involving the plaintiffs or defendants from that state or alleged damages arising within their jurisdiction. The US Supreme Court strengthened these restrictions in a 2017 decision.
But the St. Louis court had allowed foreign nationals to continue suing New Jersey-based J&J through liberal use of collection. In the case that gave the July judgment, 18 of the plaintiffs were outside of Missouri and three were outside of St. Louis. Of the approximately 700 talc cases filed in St. Louis, only 40 residents of Missouri involve court cases.
If the February 13 government closes the St. Louis court to non-resident claims, J&J may have a stronger hand defending itself in smaller talks, spread among potentially smaller plaintiffs, friendly state and federal courts.
"There is no real way to read this decision outside of this court, and it is clear that you cannot claim the damage did not happen in the arena," said Mark Cheffo, a New York-based product liability lawyer. involved. in speech questions.
J & J in a statement said it was happy with the decision. "A claim that is right for a court cannot form the basis for bringing in a lawsuit other claims that are not. We believe that the decision is clearly correct and we continue to believe that science does not support the plaintiff's claim," the firm said, and
Some plaintiffs' lawyers said the February 13 decision was not as final as Cheffo suggests.
"If the defendants celebrate this decision as the end of St. Louis massport, they have not read The entire Missouri case, "said Eric Holland, a St. Louis-based lawyer attorney involved in speech issues.  The Netherlands pointed to a Missouri Supreme Court Convention in 2016 that maintained a $ 38 million judge in a case of pharmaceutical liability that was sued had argued that he had been wrong, the court stated the result, saying that even an erroneous assembly did not unfairly bring the trial to the accused.
Although the 2016 decision One thing that was already settled, Holland and other plaintiffs' lawyers said they had planned to argue that the justice analysis also applies to foreign speech cases in cases that are yet to go to trial. They said they would also argue for joining the cases, was the most effective use of remedies.
Defense lawyers said that febr. The 13th decision would probably mean dismissal or violation of the outstanding case documents from four upcoming multilingual cases scheduled for trial in St. Louis. Two of the case were stopped by the Missouri Supreme Court before the decision.
Holland and other plaintiffs lawyers said they would challenge J & J's requests to intercept or reject speech cases by claiming the February 13 decision, not overriding the 2016 decision.
Cheffo said the 2016 decision could make it more difficult for J&J to reverse the July judgment and its record sentence because the company had to prove that the Jinner led to an unfair trial.
& # 39; FORUM SHOPPING & # 39; WITHOUT STATE PLAINTIFFS
St. The Louis Court has been a place for several talks and has seen greater value than any other jurisdiction. Outside of St. Louis, the only other important talc verdicts against J & J to date have been filed by individual plaintiffs in New Jersey and California, where the company is currently facing jury values totaling $ 142 million.
A jury in Los Angeles delivered a $ 417 million talc domicile against J & J in 2017, but the judge threw out the week after not supporting the evidence. All speech calls against J & J are in appeal.
St. The Louis Court has a history of issuing large criminal offenses against companies and has often been criticized by corporate groups such as allowing "forum shopping" by outsiders.
Although J & J faces some trials by individuals in other jurisdictions, the lawsuit of St. Louis is the largest and most likely to produce another billion dollar values.
The plaintiffs claim that the talcum in Johnson's baby powder and other J & J products causes ovarian cancer or that asbestos contamination in talc causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos is a known cancer cause associated with mesothelioma.
J & J and its talk provider, Imerys Talc America, a co-error in the case processing, deny the allegations and said that many studies and tests of regulators worldwide have shown that their talc is safe and asbestos-free.
On 14 December, Reuters published a report stating that J & J knew that the talc in their raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from the 1970s to the early 2000s – the test results they did not reveal to regulators or consumers. (reut.rs/2Gh88KO)
J & J is currently over 13,000 lawsuits over talc, most of which have been consolidated in federal courts in New Jersey. Many plaintiffs lawyers have struggled to keep cases out of the federal court, which they feel favors defendants.
Three juries have rejected the claim that Baby Powder was contaminated with asbestos or caused the plaintiff's mesothelioma. Five other juries have failed to reach judges, resulting in dreams.
Imerys Talc America said in a statement that the Missouri decision confirmed legal arguments it has made in litigation over the past four years. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 13, saying it lacked the financial crisis to defend itself against speech cases.
Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Bill Berkrot