ST. LOUIS –– Plaintiffs awarded $72 million in the first talcum powder case to proceed to trial in Missouri state court have defended expert testimony proffered on their behalf during the trial, maintaining the expert is a “highly regarded epidemiologist and a practicing internist specializing in women’s health issues,” according to HarrisMartin.
In a brief filed April 7, the plaintiffs also supported the court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the matter. The underlying appeal has been docketed for oral argument on May 10.
The underlying claims addressed in the appellate brief were brought by Jacqueline Fox, who claimed that she developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder products from Sept. 1953 to Jan. 2013 in Alabama and Georgia. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer March 1, 2013, according to her complaint; she died shortly before trial began, sources said.
In February 2016, a jury found for plaintiff Elizabeth McElroy, who acted as Fox’s personal representative, awarding $72 million in a verdict against Johnson & Johnson. Jurors found in favor of defendant Imerys Talc America Inc.
Johnson & Johnson defendants filed post-trial motions, including a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a motion for a new trial. Those motions were denied by the trial court, prompting the instant appeal.
In its jurisdictional statement included in the appellate brief, the defendant argued that they were not subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri and that the judgment should be void and vacated.
“Of the 65 plaintiffs, 63 alleged that they bought and used [Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc.] cosmetic products and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in states other than Missouri,” the brief noted. “J&J and JJCC moved to dismiss the claims of the non-resident plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion.”
The defendants also argued that the trial court erred when allowing the testimony of Dr. Roberta Ness to proceed, saying that her “opinion is not a product of reliable methods or sound science.”
Among the other assignments of error identified by the Johnson & Johnson defendants were the denial of a motion to sever the plaintiff’s claims, the admittance of testimony from Dr. John Godleski and David Steinberg, and the denial of the defendants’ motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
In their brief, the plaintiffs defended Dr. Ness’ qualifications, calling her a “highly regarded epidemiologist and a practicing internist specializing in women’s health issues.”
In addition to defending Ness’ qualifications, the plaintiffs also defended the trial court’s decision to exercise jurisdiction over the claims, saying that while they concede that the court cannot exercise general jurisdiction over the defendants, it can exercise specific jurisdiction.
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