A $67.5 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson on October 27 marked the company’s third straight defeat in an onslaught of lawsuits claiming that its talc-based products cause ovarian cancer. In an effort to reverse its losing streak, the company plans to have the suits heard in a different court, according to a report by Reuters.
All three cases, totalling around $195 million, were handed down in the same St. Louis court with the same judge presiding. Plaintiffs have filed 2,500 similar cases – the vast majority in the same court, which is one of several in the U.S. that attracts consumer lawsuits.
The plaintiffs – typically women or families – argue that studies show Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used in the vaginal area. The company argued that other studies have showed no such correlation.
Jere Beasley, whose firm has filed hundreds of talc lawsuits including the three St. Louis wins and two New Jersey dismissals, said the verdicts should prompt Johnson & Johnson to make a deal.
If I were representing them, I would say, folks, we need to sit down and regroup and start trying to settle these cases.
In a court filing in August, Johnson & Johnson argued that the cases against them should be dismissed because the plaintiffs’ lawyers tainted the St. Louis jury pool. The lawyers have denied the claim.
Johnson & Johnson also argued that, because most of the plaintiffs are not from St. Louis and the New Jersey-based company has no strong ties to St. Louis, the cases should not have been heard in that court. The judge rejected both arguments.
The recent $67.5 million verdict followed a $55 million verdict in May and $72 million in February.
The first talc verdict in February was won by the family of Jacqueline Fox. Jacqueline died in October 2015. The family’s lawyers claimed that she used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder every day for 35 years for genital hygiene, before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013.