The next Missouri talc trial will move forward this month over defense objections, as determined by the Missouri Circuit Court for St. Louis City in a hearing held on Sept. 18, reports HarrisMartin Publishing. These talc cases center on allegations that Johnson and Johnson’s talc-containing products can cause ovarian cancer with prolonged use in the genital area. There have already been five completed trials in St. Louis with four plaintiff wins totaling verdicts of more than $300 million.
In June, more than two weeks into trial, the sixth Missouri talc ovarian cancer case to go before a jury was declared a mistrial. Judge Rex Burlison’s decision was in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court.
The significant decision about jurisdiction overruled the California Supreme Court’s previous decision to allow hundreds of out-of-state plaintiffs to sue Bristol-Myers Squibb over blood thinner Plavix in California. It was ruled that the California court did not have specific jurisdiction over the company, which is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York.
The Missouri talc trial was the first to involve multiple plaintiffs and two of the three were from out of state. Defense attorneys in the talc litigation immediately filed motion for mistrial following the Supreme Court decision. Of the more than 1,000 claims filed in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court many are from out-of-state residents. None of the plaintiffs in the previously completed trials were Missouri residents. Johnson and Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey.
Although Judge Burlison granted the mistrial he rescheduled the trial for Oct. 16, when Missouri resident Michael Blaes of Webster Groves, Missouri,will see his claim to go back to trial. He is the husband of Shawn Blaes, who died of ovarian cancer in 2011 at age 50 after four decades of using Johnson and Johnson’s talcum-based products for feminine hygiene. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Michael contacted friend and Missouri attorney Jim Onder just after the first talc trial in 2013 in South Dakota with the belief that Shawn’s long-term talc use might have caused her ovarian cancer.
Onder has served as local counsel in all five of the St. Louis trials, and the Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles law firm of Montgomery, Alabama, has served as co-counsel in all of the trials with R. Allen Smith, the first attorney who handled the ground-breaking 2013 South Dakota talc case, according to The National Law Journal.
In addition to rescheduling Blaes’ trial, in June when he declared the mistrial, Judge Burlison also allowed time for new discovery regarding unexpected evidence that might establish a Missouri connection needed for jurisdiction. He will address personal jurisdiction issues with respect to out-of-state plaintiffs including the two who were originally included as plaintiffs in this sixth talc trial, Savanna Crews and Darlene Evans, once discovery is complete.
St. Louis Dispatch
National Law Journal