Johnson & Johnson wins reversal of $72M verdict over talc cancer risks
Oct 17 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday won the reversal of a $72 million verdict in favor of the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer they claimed stemmed from her use of the company's talc-based products like Johnson's Baby Powder.
The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District said that given a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited where injury lawsuits could be filed, the case over Alabama resident Jacqueline Fox's death should not have been tried in St. Louis.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs had no immediate comment. J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The February 2016 verdict for Fox's family was the first of four jury awards totaling $307 million in state court in St. Louis to plaintiffs who accused J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.
J&J, which won one Missouri trial, says it faces lawsuits by 4,800 plaintiffs nationally asserting similar claims over its talc-based products. It also faces cases in California, where in August a jury awarded a woman $417 million.
The Missouri cases, which have largely been brought by out-of-state plaintiffs, have faced jurisdictional questions after the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that limited where personal injury lawsuits could be filed.
In a decision in a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, the Supreme Court said state courts could not hear claims by non-residents who were not injured in that particular state and where the defendant company was not based in that state.
The three-judge Missouri appeals court panel cited that decision in its ruling in the case of Fox, who died four months before trial and who was named as one of 65 plaintiffs in her specific lawsuit, only two of which were Missouri residents.
"The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims," Judge Lisa Van Amburg wrote in her decision.
Lawyers for Fox's family say the Alabama resident died in 2015 at age of 62 after using J&J's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 35 years. J&J sold Shower to Shower to Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2012.
Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable and awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages.
The case is Estate of Jacqueline Fox et al v. Johnson & Johnson, et al, Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, No. ED104580. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Andrew Hay)