Johnson & Johnson is seeking a new venue for the next trial involving its talc-based powders and ovarian cancer. According to a report from Law360.com, the company wants the trial moved at least 100 miles away from St. Louis, Missouri, due to fears that the available jury pool might be tainted.
Johnson & Johnson, the company behind Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, is facing more than 1,200 product liability claims that allege use of its talc body powders for feminine hygiene purposes contributes to the development of ovarian cancer. Many of those lawsuits have been consolidated in St. Louis Circuit Court, where two trials convened earlier this year concluded with massive verdicts in favor of plaintiffs.
A third trial will soon get underway. But in a motion filed with the Court on July 28th, Johnson & Johnson argued that it would be denied a fair hearing due to constant attorney advertising in the St. Louis area that touts the two recent verdicts. Among other things, the motion cited a survey which indicated that 62% of St. Louis residents had seen a talcum powder lawsuit advertisement, with an average viewing of nine commercials per person. Over half of those who had viewed such an ad expressed a negative attitude towards talcum powder. Johnson & Johnson even suggested that the advertising might have been designed to influence the opinions of perspective jurors
“We believe that because of these ads, our right to a fair trial in St. Louis has been compromised, and we have asked the court to move this litigation from the city,” a Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. spokesperson told Law360.com in an emailed statement.
Johnson & Johnson tried a similar tactic after Missouri’s first talcum powder trial concluded in February with a $72 million verdict for the plaintiff. However, the Court denied its motion, and allowed the second trial to go forward in St. Louis. The proceeding ended with a $55 million judgement for the plaintiff.
Lawyers representing the plaintiff involved in the Missouri litigation’s third trial told Law360.com that they expect the Court to deny Johnson & Johnson’s latest bid for a venue change.
“They would have to prove that, basically, the inhabitants of the city of St. Louis are more biased than any other city county or state in the country, which is nonsense,” one of the attorneys said.
He also pointed out that the jury selection process for the second trial did, in fact, reveal that many people had viewed talcum powder lawsuit commercials. However, none said they were swayed by the advertising.