Johnson & Johnson has scored again in its appeals campaign against talcum powder verdicts. After the company last year secured two major reversals, a Missouri appeals court has overturned another verdict worth $55 million.
On Friday, the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in the case of Gloria Ristesund, finding that the court lacked jurisdiction. A South Dakota resident, Ristesund said she used J&J's talc products for more than 40 years, causing her to develop ovarian cancer. J&J denied the allegations.
A J&J spokesperson on Monday said the company is “extremely pleased the court recognized this trial never should have occurred and vacated the judgment and verdict.”
After the 2016 verdict in Ristesund's case, J&J said it would appeal. Since the jury handed down its decision, the Supreme Court ruled on a separate case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb that affected the most recent outcome. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that patients can’t take their pick of venues when suing drugmakers just because drug companies sell products and maintain operations around the country.
The Missouri appeals judges cited the Supreme Court decision in their review of Ristesund's case, but they declined to remand her lawsuit for further proceedings.
In a statement, plaintiff's attorney Ted Meadows said J&J "used a jurisdictional technicality to escape liability for its reprehensible corporate conduct in this case, but the facts and the science behind these verdicts are not going away."
"Like many trial verdicts before it, a Missouri jury studied the science and found that talc caused Ms. Ristesund’s ovarian cancer and that Johnson & Johnson used its corporate influence to prevent government regulation and warnings from being placed on its talc-based powder products," he added. "We will continue to fight for Ms. Ristesund and other victims, and will do so in courtrooms throughout the country, including Missouri."
Friday's decision marks the third successful appeal J&J has secured in its yearslong talc defense. Also since the Supreme Court decision, the company prevailed in another talc powder appeal worth $72 million in Missouri. About a week later, the company convinced a court in California to overturn a $417 million verdict.
Even as it has recorded wins in appeals, J&J continues to face claims that talc powder causes ovarian cancer or mesothelioma; the company denies the allegations. J&J is currently facing its biggest legal test yet on the issue in a trial combining the claims of 22 plaintiffs in St. Louis. The trial is expected to finish in mid-July.
In total, the company faces about 9,100 talc powder liability cases, according to a recent SEC filing.
Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from plaintiff's attorney Ted Meadows.