Missouri is on track to convene its sixth talcum powder lawsuit on October 16, 2017, following a hearing in the 22nd Circuit Court for St. Louis on Monday.
The trial will involve a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single Missouri resident on behalf of his wife. Michael Blaes claims that her death from ovarian cancer was directly related to her use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products, which were a daily part of her feminine hygiene routine in the decades leading up to her diagnosis.
Blaes was one of three plaintiffs whose cases went before a jury in July. However, the presiding judge declared a mistrial after just five days of testimony in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, which held that state courts lack jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants when plaintiffs’ alleged injuries did not occur in the state.
Of the three plaintiffs, only Blaes was a Missouri resident. During Monday’s hearing, the Court indicated that his case would proceed to trial October 16th on its own. However, HarrisMartin.com has yet to rule on certain jurisdictional issues, which could affect the trial setting.
Johnson & Johnson faces nearly 5,000 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits nationwide. Plaintiffs pursuing these claims cite numerous studies dating back to the 1970s that suggest the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals may increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer. They also highlight internal Johnson & Johnson documents that indicate company executives had knowledge of this research, but placed profits over safety and decided against adding warning labels to its Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower talcum powder products.
Missouri has already concluded five trials, with four juries awarding plaintiffs compensatory and punitive damages ranging from from $55 million to $100 million. Only one Missouri jury has returned a verdict for Johnson & Johnson.
At least 300 similar cases are pending against Johnson & Johnson in California’s Los Angeles Superior Court. Last month, the jury hearing evidence in the state’s first talcum powder trial ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million, including $300 million in punitive damage, to a woman with terminal ovarian cancer. While the trial included much of the evidence presented during earlier talcum powder trials, it marked the first time a jury was shown evidence that some of Johnson & Johnson’s competitors were now including ovarian cancer warnings on their talcum powder labels.
Talcum powder litigations involving Johnson & Johnson products are also underway in New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey federal court.