Supreme Court Ruling Leads to the Reversal of a $72 Million Jury Award

Johnson & Johnson has been facing a series of lawsuits. This stems from the fact that people have complained of the cancer-related cases emerging from the use of the talc-based products offered by the company, one such product is the Johnson’s Baby Powder. In fact, J&J admits that it faces about 4,800 such cases nationally.

A recent ruling by the Supreme Court set a limit on the jurisdiction of a state court on injury lawsuits. According to the ruling, state courts have no jurisdiction over injuries that did not occur in the state and also when the defendant is not based in the particular state. The Supreme Court made this ruling in a case which involved Bristol Myers Squibb.

The Supreme Court ruling affected several rulings made earlier by state courts. One of these rulings was the one made by St. Louis’ state court. 65 plaintiffs had filed a case against Johnson & Johnson due to injuries that resulted from the use of the company’s talc-based products.

One of the plaintiffs was the family of a woman, Jacqueline Fox, who had died of ovarian cancer in 2015. She allegedly had developed the condition as a result of using Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower and Baby Powder for 35 years. However, the firm had sold out Shower to bathe to the pharmaceutical company Valeant in 2012.

The state court of St. Louis found the cosmetic products’ company guilty of not providing adequate information to its consumers on the risks of using its products. As a result, the users were exposed to cancer-causing agents without their knowledge as was in Fox’s case.

After the proof of liability, the jury awarded a total of $72 million in favor of Fox’s family. $62 million of the sum was for punitive damages and $10 million for compensatory damages. The verdict was followed by three other awards by the court against the firm that totaled to $235 million.

Reversal of ruling

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Johnson & Johnson filed an appeal at the Missouri Court of Appeal seeking the reversal of the ruling given Jacqueline was a resident of Alabama. The Missouri court in their ruling pointed out that it was out of order for the case to be filed, heard and determined in St. Louis. Besides, only two of the 65 plaintiffs are residents of Missouri. It consequently reversed the $72 million award.

Judge Lisa van Amburg pointed out in her ruling that the Supreme Court’s decision is applicable even if the plaintiff received the same injuries as other resident plaintiffs.

J&J is currently facing similar lawsuits from about 4800 plaintiffs. The lawyers of the company and the plaintiff were not available immediately for comments.