Johnson & Johnson case: How a U.S. Supreme Court ruling is changing injury litigation - Born2Invest
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    Johnson & Johnson case: How a U.S. Supreme Court ruling is changing injury litigation

  • Johnson & Johnson cited a US SC ruling that says courts should not hear out-of-state claims if the supposed injury did not occur in that particular state.

    American society is known to be a litigious one, a stereotype that author David M. Engel sought to dispel in his book, “The Myth of the Litigious Society: Why We Don’t Sue.” A large factor in that American stereotype is likely the sort of media coverage given to certain sensational lawsuits.

    Just recently, personal product maker Johnson & Johnson was in a Reuters report after it used in its defense, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. That ruling says state courts are not allowed to hear claims cases involving out-of-state parties if the alleged injuries did not happen in the state. One judge already declared a mistrial in one J&J lawsuit since the plaintiffs came from out-of-state.

    The ruling will likely be used by J&J to its advantage as it faces more than $300 million in verdicts from talc-related lawsuits.

    There was an earlier lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson lost. In February 2016, a court found the company guilty of “negligence, conspiracy and failure” to warn women against the cancer risk talcum powder brings. The court ordered $72 million paid to the kin of the plaintiff, who died of ovarian cancer.

     

    johnson & Johnson

    Photo by Austin Kirk via Flickr. CC-BY 2.0

    It should be noted that the verdict did not establish scientific proof that talcum powder does cause cancer; merely that J&J failed to warn consumers about the risk. The American Cancer Society says that evidence for cancer risk in talcum powder is mixed.  

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    In the same vein, tobacco company Philip Morris was ordered to pay nearly $29 billion in punitive and compensatory damages in 2002. A court ruled the company failed to warn consumers about tobacco health risks. Another sensational case involved breast implant maker Dow Corning in 1998. A class action suit alleged that the company’s silicone breast implants were rupturing and causing bodily damage, and even death. Dow Corning settled the case for $2 billion.

    Now, with the new US Supreme Court ruling, plaintiffs and their personal injury lawyers will have to rethink their strategies on how to hold companies liable for violations.

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