J&J loses venue fight for talc lawsuits in Missouri

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By Erica Teichert

<span class="articleLocation”>The Missouri Supreme Court has denied Johnson &
Johnson’s bid to move out of a St. Louis state court thousands
of lawsuits alleging the company’s talc-based products can
increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

The state high court on Tuesday this week rejected an appeal
by J&J seeking to transfer most of the 2,500 lawsuits
pending in state court in St. Louis to courts across the country
where the plaintiffs are located.

The plaintiffs are women and their families who claim
studies show J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products
increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used in the vaginal
area. J&J has said more comprehensive studies show no such link.

St. Louis has become the main destination for talc lawsuits
nationally, and J&J has been hit with three straight jury
verdicts there, totaling $195 million. The company had hoped to
reverse that trend by changing the venues for the cases to
potentially friendlier jurisdictions.

In September, a state court judge in New Jersey, where J&J
is based, dismissed two talc lawsuits against the company.

J&J spokeswoman Carol Goodrich declined to comment on the
Missouri Supreme Court’s decision.

The company had argued in court filings that plaintiffs’
attorneys tainted the St. Louis jury pool by spending nearly $10
million on television commercials in the last year, with a
disproportionate amount running in St. Louis. Plaintiffs’
lawyers have denied the allegation.

Ted Meadows, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said in a
statement on Wednesday that the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed
plaintiffs’ right to file their claims in a single location.

The next trial is slated to start on Feb. 6 in St. Louis. In
that case, Nora Daniels of Columbia, Tennessee, alleges she used
J&J Baby Powder for 36 years and was diagnosed with ovarian
cancer in 2013.

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