A Missouri appeals court yesterday tossed out a $72 million award to a woman who claimed talcum powder made by Johnson & Johnson contributed to her ovarian cancer, saying Missouri was not the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit.
The ruling by the Missouri Eastern District Court came in a lawsuit filed by Jacqueline Fox, 62, of Birmingham, Alabama. She had claimed the baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson products that she used for about 25 years contributed to her cancer.
She died in 2015, about four months before her case went to trial in St Louis Circuit Court and though she was joined by 64 other plaintiffs, only two of them lived in Missouri.
Fox was awarded $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages in February 2016, the first award in the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. In four of five cases in Missouri the plaintiffs have been awarded $300 million, with the other case decided for New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson.
The appeals court took note of a Supreme Court ruling this summer, in a case which involved Bristol-Myers Squibb that there must be a connection between the plaintiff and the state where the lawsuit is filed.
According to Johnson & Johnson, which won one Missouri trial, it was facing lawsuits by 4,800 plaintiffs nationally making similar claims over its talc-based products.
It is also faced with a case in California, where in August a jury awarded a woman $417 million (See: Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay record $417 mn in talcum powder case).
"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.