As anticipated, Johnson & Johnson has appealed a $2.1 billion judgment over allegations that its talcum powder causes ovarian most cancers to the best courtroom within the land.
The corporate petitioned the Supreme Court docket on March 2 to evaluation the multi-billion greenback verdict issued final June by the Missouri Court docket of Appeals for the Jap District. In an accompanying release, the corporate asserted that the trial was “basically flawed” and yielded an “incorrect verdict and arbitrary and disproportionate damages.”
The transfer was lengthy anticipated, as the corporate has been threatening to take action since November, when its attraction of the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court docket was denied. In anticipation of the prices related to this and 1000’s of different circumstances alleging that the corporate’s talcum merchandise have been tainted with asbestos, Johnson & Johnson has put aside $3.9 billion for litigation prices, in line with a company filing final month.
Two Merchandise and 22 Instances
Missouri’s Ingham case — named for one of many plaintiffs — concerned 22 girls who claimed they developed ovarian most cancers after continued use of two Johnson & Johnson talcum merchandise: Johnson’s Child Powder and Bathe to Bathe.
The plaintiffs additionally contended that the corporate had identified for many years that their merchandise have been contaminated with asbestos and different carcinogens, however “mounted a concerted effort to keep away from warning authorities regulators and public well being officers, the scientific and medical group, and the general public of the contents of the merchandise.”
“The jury was confronted with 22 totally different plaintiffs with dramatically totally different cancer-risk profiles, prognoses, and talc use. The mass trial papered over these variations, permitting the jury to miss vital weaknesses in particular person plaintiffs’ claims — and to deduce causation from the variety of plaintiffs earlier than it.” — J&J petition
Johnson & Johnson has lengthy denied these allegations, one thing it reiterated in its March 2 launch. “The Ingham verdict is … at odds with a long time of impartial scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Child Powder is secure, just isn’t contaminated by asbestos and doesn’t trigger most cancers.”
The trial choose within the Missouri appeals case in the end awarded the plaintiffs greater than $500 million in precise damages and a whopping $1.6 billion in punitive damages.
Due Course of
Johnson & Johnson’s excessive courtroom petition raised many factors of legislation it views as worthy of Supreme Court docket evaluation, however foremost amongst its issues was due course of.
The corporate contended that it was basically unfair for all the plaintiffs within the case to be joined collectively in a mass trial, arguing that such trials “obscure tough causation questions.” In addition they alleged that the mass trial course of successfully creates a “good plaintiff” by combining essentially the most dramatic options of various circumstances to realize most impact.
Completely different Strokes for Completely different Of us?
“The jury was confronted with 22 totally different plaintiffs with dramatically totally different cancer-risk profiles, prognoses, and talc use,” the petition said. “The mass trial papered over these variations, permitting the jury to miss vital weaknesses in particular person plaintiffs’ claims — and to deduce causation from the variety of plaintiffs earlier than it. For instance, if Ms. Ingham’s case had proceeded individually, the jury would have heard about her yr with most cancers, how she went into full remission, and the way she spent the following 32 years cancer-free.”
In accordance with the corporate, there’s no theoretical restrict on the variety of circumstances that could possibly be consolidated collectively for trial, “as long as the jury was instructed to think about every case individually. That’s no option to guarantee a good trial,” it argued.
“The [high] courtroom has repeatedly sought to curb abuses in class-action litigation; it ought to do the identical for mass-tort litigation,” the petition concluded.
Many of those similar factors have been rejected by the Missouri appellate courtroom, which famous that the assorted plaintiffs’ allegations “arose out of the identical fundamental accidents, similar defect, similar alleged responsibility, and similar causes of motion.”