An appeals court in Missouri, United States, has reversed a $72-million verdict that was in favour of the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer they claimed stemmed from her use of the company’s Johnson & Johnson’s products. The decision has thrown the fate of awards in similar cases into doubt, The Philadelphia Tribune reported.
The Missouri Eastern District Court’s on Tuesday ruled that the state was not the proper jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit filed by Jacqueline Fox, 62, of Birmingham, Alabama, who claimed the baby powder she used for about 25 years contributed to her cancer.
“The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims,” Judge Lisa Van Amburg wrote. The cases in Missouri, which have largely been brought by out-of-state plaintiffs, have faced jurisdictional questions after a US Supreme Court verdict in June limited the places where personal injury lawsuits could be filed.
Fox died in 2015, about four months before her case went to trial. In February 2016, a jury awarded Fox $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. It was the first award in the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, the daily reported.
According to a Reuters report, it was the first of four jury awards totalling $307 million in state court in St Louis to plaintiffs who accused the company of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.
Johnson & Johnson, which said that it is facing lawsuits from 4,800 plaintiffs across the country on similar grounds, said it was pleased with the ruling. In California, a court decided in August that the company would pay a woman with ovarian cancer $417 million for not warning consumers about the risks involved in using their talcum powder.