A Missouri appeals court on Tuesday rebuffed Johnson & Johnson’s request that it take a second look at its decision that affirmed a jury’s finding that the company’s talcum powder products gave nearly two dozen woman ovarian cancer and upheld $2.11 billion in damages from the landmark $4.7 billion verdict.
In a pair of single-sentence orders, the Eastern District Court of Appeals succinctly denied both J&J’s motion for rehearing and its application for transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court, both of which were filed earlier this month.
J&J spokesperson Kim Montagnino told Law360 that the denials of its motions were a “procedural next step” in the appeal, and that the company’s following move will indeed be asking the Missouri high court to hear the case.
“The verdict was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer,” she said. “We continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in faulty presentation of the facts, and will pursue further review of this case by the Supreme Court of Missouri.”
On June 23, the appellate court slashed nearly $2.6 billion from the record-setting verdict won in June 2018 by a group of plaintiffs who alleged asbestos and other carcinogens in J&J talc products gave 22 women ovarian cancer.
In its motion for a rehearing, J&J argued that the verdicts were based on flawed expert testimony that should not have gone to the jury. The company further argued that the appellate court’s jurisdictional ruling meant new trials should be ordered on the surviving plaintiff’s claims – and that the court had overlooked the significant differences in those claims, which warrant having them split into separate trials.
“Considering the number of differences among plaintiffs, the sheer volume of the jury instructions and the number of different state laws involved, the relatively short time spent in deliberations, and the identical awards that followed those deliberations, it is inconceivable that the jury considered each claim separately based only on the evidence presented on each plaintiff,” J&J argued.