A St. Louis court has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay nearly $4.7 billion in damages and punitive damages to plaintiffs claiming the company’s talcum powder caused cancer. Johnson & Johnson denied the allegations and asserts its products are harmless.
In this case, 17 of the 22 plaintiffs were from out of state.
This exemplifies why Missouri desperately needs venue reform. Missouri’s existing laws have allowed thousands of out-of-state cases like this one to be transferred into the state—mostly to St. Louis courts, which have a national reputation as being plaintiff-friendly.
Bills to end this practice and help address Missouri’s poor legal climate ranking were proposed in both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions and were supported by the Missouri Chamber. So far, however, reforms have not made it across the finish line.
This new ruling makes it clearer than ever that venue reform should be a top priority for the legislature going forward to prevent out-of-state plaintiffs from clogging our courts and trying to win outlandish judgements.
You can read about another case illustrating the need for venue reform here.