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New Supreme Court Ruling Restricts Where Talc Powder Cases May Be Heard

Thursday, September 21, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

The ongoing dispute between numerous plaintiffs and Johnson & Johnson over an alleged failure to warn customers of a risk of ovarian cancer associated with use of talcum powder has taken an unforeseen turn. The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a judgment which effectively limits where lawsuits concerning this matter may be filed. The case, which involved Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co, almost instantly affected talcum powder cases being heard nationwide.

The decision affects the ability of non-residents to file their claims in states where no injury was suffered. The Court’s decision caused a mistrial in a case involving Johnson & Johnson being heard in Missouri, where numerous other talcum powder cases had been held successfully. Prior to the decision, more than $300 million in punitive damages were awarded against Johnson & Johnson in that state.

Johnson & Johnson has responded to the decision by asserting that it must apply to talcum powder cases in which it is involved. In a statement, Johnson & Johnson stated that the ruling should necessitate a reversal of the talcum powder cases in which appeals are pending.

The decision, however, may not be the end of the claims against Johnson & Johnson in Missouri. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Ted Meadows said that he would continue to push for jurisdiction of the St. Louis court, where his case was declared to be a mistrial. He argues that the use of a Missouri-based bottler by Johnson & Johnson means that the Supreme Court decision does not apply to his matter.

With St. Louis no longer being the center of talcum powder litigation, focus may now shift to California, where the case of Eva Echeverria is taking center stage. The reason behind this is that Echeverria resides in California, and she claims to have developed ovarian cancer while living in California, after having been a long time user of Johnson & Johnson products.

Echeverria’s case has already undergone a Sargon hearing, which is California’s version of what is known as a “Daubert” hearing. In these hearings, parties seek a pre-trial ruling as to the expert witnesses who will be permitted to testify, and what those witnesses may and may not discuss on the stand. This particular Sargon hearing was of significance, since earlier talcum powder cases filed in New Jersey failed to move forward because the admissibility of certain expert witness testimony was denied.

Product manufacturers must take responsibility for ensuring the safety of every consumer. When they don’t, the Alexander Law Group, LLP stands ready to hold them accountable. If you or a family member has been injured by a faulty product, Call us at 888-777-1776, or contact us online, for a free and confidential consultation.

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