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Supreme Court decision puts talc-injury verdicts, claims in precarious position

We have previously written on this blog on the potential link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. As we’ve mentioned, proving causation in these cases is not necessarily an easy matter, as the science isn’t yet settled and there is room for doubt. Working with an experienced attorney is important to gather the strongest possible evidence and to build the best possible case.

Talcum powder cases can be difficult not only with respect to substantive legal issues like causation, but also when it comes to procedural requirements like jurisdiction. A recent example of this is how Johnson & Johnson is trying to take advantage of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month holding that out-of-state plaintiffs in a California case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. are not able to sue the company there because they failed to prove there was sufficient contact with the state to proceed with claims there. 

The Supreme Court decision is seen as a victory for due process rights and the principle of federalism, but Johnson & Johnson is attempting to use the ruling to avoid responsibility and even reverse liability for cases filed in Missouri. The company, which owns a facility in Union, Missouri which packages talcum products, has faced a barrage of litigation in that state involving over 1,000 plaintiffs, most of whom don’t live there.

According to some attorneys, the Supreme Court decision not only will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to sue Johnson & Johnson for talc-related injuries, but also puts verdicts in danger of being reversed. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and the importance of working with experienced legal counsel to sort out jurisdictional matters in talcum powder and asbestos litigation. 

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