A California judge has reversed the $417 million verdict handed down in the latest talcum powder lawsuit trial.
By Laurence Banville
Labeling a jury's award of $417 million in damages as "excessive," a Judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court has reversed the latest talcum powder verdict, granting Johnson & Johnson's request for a new trial.
As Reuters reports, Judge Maren Nelson's October 23 decision may end up being a major blow to nearly 5,000 lawsuits that claim talc-based products cause ovarian cancer. Mark Robinson, a plaintiffs' attorney, is now representing the estate of Eva Echeverria, who died after a decade-long battle with ovarian cancer. In a statement, Robinson announced his intention to appeal Judge Nelson's holding immediately.
J&J Scores Two Talc VictoriesWhen it was handed down, Echeverria's award was the highest yet delivered in a litigation that had already seen four large judgments for ovarian cancer patients and their families. Out of six jury trials, Johnson & Johnson has secured only one defense verdict. Yet in the span of a week, the company garnered two big post-verdict wins.
The first came in Missouri, where thousands of talc lawsuits are gathered in a St. Louis state court. On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the State's appeals court for the Eastern District threw out a $72 million verdict rendered in the case of Jacqueline Fox, who died from cancer-related complications in 2015. But the appeals court, taking direction from the Supreme Court's recent holding in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, ruled in a unanimous decision that Fox's case should not have been heard in Missouri, since she had been a resident of Alabama prior to her death.
$417 Million Talc Verdict ReversedSix days later, Johnson & Johnson learned of Judge Maren Nelson's ruling in California. In his opinion, Judge Nelson criticized the jury's punitive damages award, a shocking $347 million, as excessive, citing a lack of evidence demonstrating Johnson & Johnson's malice. He also noted apparent jury misconduct, noting a defense argument that three jurors (all of whom had voted against holding the company responsible) had been inappropriately foreclosed from participating in the discussion of damages.
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