Missouri Court Now Open to Non-Resident Plaintiffs in Talc-Related Cancer Trials

talc johnson & johnsonIn a major victory for plaintiffs in litigation against Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, the Missouri Court of Appeals opened its trial courts to 1,350 plaintiffs who are not Missouri residents.

Johnson & Johnson is facing upcoming trials on claims that use of the company’s talc-based products directly led to ovarian cancer.

Attorneys for J&J had asked the appellate court to deny the jurisdiction of the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis to hear the cases of out-of-state plaintiffs. In a one-page order signed Jan. 3, Chief Judge Angela T. Quigless denied the motion without further comment.

The next trial brought by more than 60 women and family members against Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to begin in St. Louis on Feb. 6, followed by five additional trials. Last year, St. Louis juries returned three separate verdicts of $70 million, $72 million and $55 million for cancer victims who sued New Jersey-based J&J.

Also read:

Behind the $55 Million Talc Verdict: J&J Knew About Cancer Risks Since the 1970s

Plaintiff victory

The ruling is an important victory for plaintiffs, who seek to keep their cases in the Missouri courts where they have recovered three giant verdicts — and out of the New Jersey courts where a judge excluded their causation experts.

The lawsuits claim that numerous scientific studies have shown the link between ovarian cancer and the regular use of talc-containing products manufactured and marketed by J&J, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that the company has known about the dangers of talcum powder for decades, but has attempted to suppress and dismiss those studies while refusing to provide warning labels on its talc-containing products.

Anyone has a right to bring a case

“Anyone has the constitutional right to bring a case in any jurisdiction,” says Ted Meadows, attorney for the plaintiffs and principal at the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama. “We’ve chosen St. Louis to file several talc-related claims because it’s a central location that makes sense for these women, many of whom are very ill and deserve to have their claims heard fairly, quickly and efficiently.”

In the U.S., ovarian cancer affects about 24,000 women a year and is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death for women. It is estimated that 14,000 women die from talc-related ovarian cancer each year. One medical expert calculates that the use of talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually.

Three times in 2016 a jury in St. Louis has awarded an 8-figure verdict against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn the public about the dangers that its talcum powder products can lead to ovarian cancer.

  • On October 27 the third jury awarded more than $70 million in damages to Deborah Giannecchini, 62, of Modesto, CA, on her claim that her use of baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson talc products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012 and talc was found in her ovaries.
  • In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.
  • In May another jury in the same courthouse awarded $55 million to Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.

Long-known cancer risk

The plaintiffs argued that studies have shown for 30 years that there is a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but that J&J conspired to hide the truth.

Internal J&J memos showed the company was aware of studies linking talc powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer for decades, according to Onder.

The Oct. 27 verdict also held Imerys Talc liable. Imerys supplied talc to J&J and placed health warnings on the material safety data sheets for the talc. J&J, however, has never put a health warning on its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products.

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Cancer Victim’s Case Against Can Proceed against J&J in Talc Conspiracy

talc johnson & johnsonUS District Judge Mark A. Kearney ruled that a Pennsylvania woman’s case may proceed, charging that talc supplied by Imerys, the world largest talc producer, and sold by Johnson & Johnson caused her death by ovarian cancer.

Nancy Bors brought the action as administrator of the estate of Maureen Broderick Milliken against Imerys, which supplied talc to J&J and placed health warnings on the material safety data sheets for the talc. J&J, however, has never put a health warning on its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products.

The case is Nancy Bors v. Johnson & Johnson, US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 16-2866.

Imerys brought a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction. Imerys argued it is is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in California. Imerys does not own, possess, or lease property in Pennsylvania. It does not have an address, phone number, or bank account in Pennsylvania, and does not sell talc in Pennsylvania for baby powder or ship or distribute talc in Pennsylvania for baby powder. The commercial transactions between Imerys and Johnson & Johnson did not occur in Pennsylvania.

Bors admitted Imerys’ only connection with Pennsylvania arises from its 2007 decision to register to do business as a foreign corporation in Pennsylvania — and that was sufficient for the judge to find personal jurisdiction over the company.

1,200 lawsuits

“Pennsylvania’s statute specifically advises the registrant of the jurisdictional effect of registering to do business. In 2007, long after Pennsylvania enacted its specific notice statute and after our Court of Appeals confirmed personal jurisdiction based on registration, Imerys elected to register to do business in Pennsylvania as a foreign corporation. Imerys’ compliance with Pennsylvania’s registration statute amounted to consent to personal jurisdiction. Consent remains a valid form of establishing personal jurisdiction under the Pennsylvania registration statute,” the court held.

The court also ruled that the lawsuit stated three claims, for negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy and acting in concern under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices Law.

Numerous research studies have shown the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. For details read Behind the $55 Million Talc Verdict: J&J Knew About Cancer Risks Since the 1970s.

J&J is facing 1,200 lawsuits in Missouri and New Jersey, charging it with failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks. Earlier this year juries in state court in St. Louis awarded 8-figure verdicts in trials charging that the company knew that its talc-based products cause ovarian cancer, and failed to warn women who used it.

The hearing will be on Sept. 29 at the US Courthouse in Washington, DC, for In Re Johnson & Johnson “Baby Powder” And “Shower To Shower” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation (PDF), MDL Docket No. 2738.

 

 

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New MDLs Consolidate Cases for Abilify, Roundup, Talc and Taxotere

Consolidating thousands of lawsuits involving Abilify schizophrenia drug, Roundup herbicide, Talc powder and Taxotere cancer drug, US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) in Washington, DC, created new multidistrict litigation (MDL) dockets for the mass tort cases.

This is good news for plaintiffs. In due course the assigned courts will create short-form complaints and plaintiff fact sheets, facilitating the filing of new actions. Each litigation will be led by a plaintiff’s steering committee appointed by the judge, who will set a discovery schedule and select representative cases for bellwether trials.

abilifyAbilify (Aripiprazole)

Responding to a motion from all the parties, the JPML created new MDL 2734, In re: Abilify Products Liability Litigation, supervised by US District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida. The ruling consolidates 22 actions filed in 12 district courts against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Plaintiffs allege that Abilify, an atypical anti-psychotic medication commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and Tourette syndrome, can cause compulsive gambling behaviors. All the actions involve factual questions relating to whether Abilify was defectively designed or manufactured, whether defendants knew or should have known of the alleged propensity of Abilify to cause compulsive gambling behaviors in users, and whether defendants provided adequate instructions and warnings with this product.

For more information read FDA Links Abilify to Compulsive Gambling, Eating, Shopping and Sex

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerRoundup (Glyphosate)

Granting the plaintiffs’ motion, the JPML created the new MDL No. 2741, In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, supervised by Judge US District Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California. Monsanto opposed consolidation. There are 21 actions pending in 14 districts. Including the potential tag-along actions, there are now 37 actions pending in twenty-one districts. More than ten different law firms represent plaintiffs in these actions, which are spread across the country.

These actions share common factual questions arising out of allegations that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, particularly its active ingredient, glyphosate, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Plaintiffs each allege that they or their decedents developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup over the course of several or more years. Plaintiffs also allege that the use of glyphosate in conjunction with other ingredients, in particular the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), renders Roundup even more toxic than glyphosate on its own.

For more information read New Illinois Lawsuit Charges Monsanto’s Roundup Causes Cancer

talc johnson & johnsonTalcum Powder

The JPML created the new MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, supervised by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. There are 10 actions in 8 districts.

The plaintiffs allege that they or their decedents developed ovarian or uterine cancer following perineal application of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products (namely, Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder). Two of the actions are consumer class actions brought on behalf of putative classes of women who allege that defendants deceptively marketed the talcum powder products for feminine hygienic use without disclosing talc’s carcinogenic properties. All the actions involve factual questions relating to the risk of cancer posed by talc and talc-based body powders, whether the defendants knew or should have known of this alleged risk, and whether defendants provided adequate instructions and warnings with respect to the products.

For more information read Behind the $55 Million Talc Verdict: J&J Knew About Cancer Risks Since the 1970s

taxotere hair lossTaxotere (Docetaxel)

The JPML created new MDL No. 2740, In Re: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation, supervised by Chief US District Judge Chief Judge Kurt Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The litigation consists of 33 actions pending in 16 districts. The panel also has been notified of 56 related actions pending in 25 districts.

Plaintiffs in these actions each allege that they experienced permanent hair loss as a result of using Taxotere. All actions will require discovery regarding the design, testing, manufacturing, marketing, and labeling of Taxotere. The defendant is Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC.

All the actions share common factual questions arising out of allegations that Taxotere (docetaxel), a chemotherapy drug, causes permanent hair loss, that defendants were aware of this possible side effect and failed to warn patients, and that defendants marketed Taxotere as more effective than other chemotherapy drugs when other drugs were equally effective without the associated permanent hair loss.

For further information read FDA Releases New Patient Info for Taxotere (Docetaxel) Cancer Drug

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Hearing Coming Up on MDL for Talcum Powder Cancer Claims against Johnson & Johnson

talcum powder cancerThe US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear arguments this month on consolidating 18 actions pending in federal courts across the country where the plaintiffs allege that use of cosmetic talc products made by Johnson & Johnson causes ovarian cancer.

The hearing will be on Sept. 29 at the US Courthouse in Washington, DC, for In Re Johnson & Johnson “Baby Powder” And “Shower To Shower” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation (PDF), MDL Docket No. 2738.

  • The Georgia/Florida Talc Plaintiffs argue for consolidation before Judge Clay D. Land, Chief Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, where at least four related actions are already pending. Represented by the Barnes Law Group of Marietta, GA, and the Cheeley Law Group in Atlanta, the plaintiffs are Cammy and Michael A. Marchetti, Nancy Crews Hicks and Brannon Rice Hicks, Sr., and Allison Walker.
  • Plaintiff Tanashiska Lumas argues for consolidation before David R. Herndon in Southern District of Illinois. Her attorneys are with The Barrett Law Group in Lexington Mississippi. The judge is in charge of two MDLs, for Pradaxa and Yasmin.
  • Defendant Johnson & Johnson argues for consolidation before Judge Freda Wolfson in the District of New Jersey, where Chakalos v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 3:14-cv-07079, is pending. J&J is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the judge previously presided over three MDLs for Plavix, Fosamax and Southern Life Insurance.
  • In the alternative, J&J argues for transferring the cases before Judge Timothy DeGiusti in the Western District of Oklahoma, where Robb v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 5:16-cv-00620, is pending. He is not presiding over an MDL.

8-figure verdicts

J&J is facing 1,200 lawsuits in Missouri and New Jersey, charging it with failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks. Earlier this year juries in state court in St. Louis awarded 8-figure verdicts in trials charging that the company knew that its talc-based products cause ovarian cancer, and failed to warn women who used it.

In May 2016 a jury awarded plaintiff Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD, $55 million in damages. Talc was found in the ovarian tissue after a she had a hysterectomy. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years. In February another jury in the same courthouse awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.

Numerous research studies have shown the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. For details read Behind the $55 Million Talc Verdict: J&J Knew About Cancer Risks Since the 1970s.

Using a the self-created Talc Interested Party Task Force, J&J hired scientists to perform biased research about the safety of talc, members of the TIPTF edited scientific reports prior to submission to government agencies, members of the TIPTF knowingly released false information about the safety of talc to the public, and used political and economic influence on regulatory bodies about talc.

 

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Talcum Powder Plaintiff Seeks Centralization of Federal Ovarian Cancer Claims Against J&J

talcum powder cancer
By Sandy A. Liebhard, Bernstein Liebhard LLP, New York.

A talcum powder lawsuit plaintiff has filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize all federal ovarian cancer claims in a single court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings.

According to a Motion for Transfer filed with the Panel on July 15, the plaintiff has suggested the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, as the most appropriate venue for the proposed multidistrict litigation. (Case Pending No. 70).

This court is the location of MDL 2385-Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Products Liability Litigation in East St Louis, IL.

Read our hard-hitting report:

Behind the $55 Million Verdict: Johnson & Johnson Knew About Talcum Powder Cancer Risks Since the 1970s

Court records show that at least 11 product liability claims involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer have already been filed in 10 federal jurisdictions. Among other things, the motion points out that the current plaintiffs reside in several different states, and it asserts that the Southern District of Illinois “would permit convenient travel for the parties and counsel as compared to travel to the East or West Coast.”

More than 1,200 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson nationwide, with litigation already underway in St. Louis, Missouri and New Jersey Superior Court. The federal docket also has the potential to be large, and would likely benefit from centralization, as coordinated pretrial proceedings would eliminate duplicative discovery and inconsistent court rulings.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Litigation

All the talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in federal courts similarly allege that regular, repeated application of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products to the genitals can increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.

The complaints charge that talc particles can make their way into the vagina and migrate to the ovaries when used in this way. Over time, the accumulating talc can result in the type of inflammation that promotes the growth of cancer cells. While a number of studies published since the 1970s have suggested such a link, plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson has failed to take any steps to warn women of this possible risk.

In April, a St. Louis jury awarded $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages to an ovarian cancer victim who used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for nearly 40 years as part of her feminine hygiene routine. In February, another Missouri trial ended with an award of $72 million for the family of a woman who died from the disease after using the company’s talc products for more than 30 years. (Case No. 1422-CC09012-01)

Follow our continuing coverage:

Plaintiffs 3-for-4 in Philadelphia Risperdal trials, confident punitive damages will be reintroduced

Kentucky AG Settles Risperdal and OxyContin False Marketing Cases for $39.5 Million

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