$2.1 Billion Talcum Powder Verdict Stands

November 3, 2020

The Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear the Johnson & Johnson appeal of a $2.1 Billion Dollar verdict, previously handed down by a Missouri jury in a Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer case.
The Court’s decision not to disturb the lower courts rulings and the jury’s verdict is likely to cause concern for Johnson & Johnson stockholders, given the significant number of Plaintiff cases on file across multiple venues throughout the country.

MTN has received numerous reports from individuals involved in the Talcum powder litigation concerning Johnson & Johnson’s attempts to settle individual firms dockets of talcum powder cases “on the cheap.” The fact that the $2.1 billion dollar verdict will stand, may make firms and plaintiffs considering accepting low ball settlement offers, reconsider.

Early reports claim that Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court

The Judiciary Act of 1789 and subsequent enactments allow appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court of judgements or final orders entered by the highest court of a state, but generally only if a Federal Question was presented in the State Court.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that “a United States District Court has no authority to review final judgments of a state court in judicial proceedings;” however, Rooker Feldman does not foreclose on the U.S. Supreme Court reviewing a State Court decision, in the presence of a Federal Question.

The current “conservative” leaning imbalance in the U.S. Supreme Court may favor Plaintiffs in this case. In 2003, SCOTUS ruled in favor of the defendant in State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 US 408 – Supreme Court 2003 holding that an excessive jury award handed down in a Utah Court violated the defendant’s rights under the 14th amendment. However, it is worth noting that the more conservative “States Rights” judges on the bench dissented, along with Justice Ginsberg.

Justice KENNEDY, delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, O’CONNOR, SOUTER, and BREYER while Justices Scalia, Thomas and Ginsberg dissented.

JUSTICE SCALIA, dissenting.

I adhere to the view expressed in my dissenting opinion in BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U. S. 559, 598-599 (1996), that the Due Process Clause provides no substantive protections against “excessive” or “`unreasonable'” awards of punitive damages. I am also of the view that the punitive damages jurisprudence which has sprung forth from BMW v. Gore is insusceptible of principled application; accordingly, I do not feel justified in giving the case stare decisis effect. See id., at 599. I would affirm the judgment of the Utah Supreme Court.

JUSTICE THOMAS, dissenting.

I would affirm the judgment below because “I continue to believe that the Constitution does not constrain the size of punitive damages awards.” Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Leatherman Tool Group, Inc., 532 U. S. 424, 443 (2001) (THOMAS, J., concurring) (citing BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U. S. 559, 599 (1996) (SCALIA, J., joined by THOMAS, J., dissenting)). Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.

Justices Ginsburg dissent was too lengthy to publish in this article. You can read the entire case at the link provided. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 US 408 – Supreme Court 2003.

The mix of Justices on the Supreme Court today differs significantly from the panel that handed down the verdict in in State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 US 408 – Supreme Court 2003. Justices, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett’s judicial record leans more towards Justice Thomas, on the issue of Federal Courts intrusion into State Court cases in general.

The fact that Johnson and Johnson would be facing Mark Lanier, who is arguably one of the most capable trial lawyers alive today, or for that matter, at any time in history, also does not favor Johnson and Johnsons prospects before SCOTUS, should the high court agree to take up the case.

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