St. Louis City – The Gateway Arch to Mammoth Talc Verdicts

MISSOURI – The city of St. Louis, Missouri, has traditionally been an unfavorable venue for defendants, particularly for those involved in allegations of personal injury or death due to cancer caused by asbestos or talc exposure. Until recently, these two causative agents – asbestos and talc – were separate materials for purposes of personal injury or wrongful death claims. In July 2018 these two theories merged in the first trial which heard that plaintiffs’ claims of ovarian cancer were caused in part by asbestos-contaminated talc.…
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St. Louis Jury Renders $4.69 Billion Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson in Talc Trial St. Louis Circuit Court, July 12, 2018

MISSOURI — On July 12, 2018, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury rendered a verdict against Johnson & Johnson in less than eight hours of deliberation following a six week trial involving 22 plaintiffs who alleged their ovarian cancer was caused by J&J talc products.  The jury awarded $25 million to each plaintiff, for a total of $550 million in compensatory damages, and found J&J liable on counts of strict liability and negligence.  The jury then spent less than two hours deliberating the punitive damages…
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Federal Court Collaterally Estops Claims in Separate Disease Case U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division, January 30, 2018

MISSOURI — Over a period of six years, plaintiff Berj Hovsepian filed two separate actions for two separate diseases, asbestosis and mesothelioma, arising out of his work with various products as a civilian employee of the United States Navy in Boston from 1958-1964. The current action sits in federal court, having been removed from a December 2015 case filed in state court in Missouri. The court granted defendant Ingersoll-Rand’s summary judgment motion on collateral estoppel for the reasons discussed below. In December of 2009, Hovsepian…
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Plaintiffs’ Motion for Reconsideration of Dismissals Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Denied U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, January 11, 2018

MISSOURI — On June 27, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted several defendants’ motions to dismiss based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to reconsider due to an intervening change in the law, specifically the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) opinion issued on June 19, 2017. The court noted that such motions, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, cannot be used to raise arguments which could have been raised…
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Reversal of $72 Million Ovarian Cancer/Talc Verdict on Jurisdiction May Lead to Fewer Asbestos Filings in Missouri Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, October 17, 2017

MISSOURI — In a case that could lead to fewer asbestos filings in Missouri, Johnson and Johnson successfully argued that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over it after a $72 million dollar plaintiff verdict in an ovarian cancer / talc case. Plaintiff Jacqueline Fox was one of 65 plaintiffs who filed suit against Johnson and Johnson (J and J) and Imerys Talc. J and J is a New Jersey resident and Imerys is a Delaware corporation. Both were sued in Missouri. The plaintiffs alleged…
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Fraudulent Joinder Determination Turns Only on Factual and Legal Basis, Not Intent U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Central Division, October 3, 2017

MISSOURI — Kansas resident plaintiffs filed an action in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, alleging mesothelioma and asbestosis arising out of work first performed in the state of Missouri. Two defendants named in the state court petition were also residents of Kansas, and the rest were from various states. Defendant Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company removed the case on the basis of diversity. In response to the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, Athene alleged that the plaintiffs had no intention of prosecuting claims…
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Collateral Estoppel Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Pump Manufacturer U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, September 11, 2017

MISSOURI — The plaintiffs filed suit in Missouri against multiple defendants including Buffalo Pumps, arguing that their decedent, Berj Hovsepian, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos containing products for which the defendants were responsible. The case was removed to the U.S. District Court. Prior to filing the Missouri suit, the plaintiffs filed suit against Buffalo in Massachusetts asserting very similar allegations. Buffalo moved for summary judgment in the Massachusetts case. The motion was granted as unopposed. In the instant matter, Buffalo moved…
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Missouri Appeals Court Affirms $10M Punitive Damage Award Against Valve Manufacturer Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, May 2, 2017

Jeannette G. Poage, the plaintiff, filed a products liability suit against defendant Crane Co. in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, alleging that her husband, James E. Poage, suffered personal injuries and wrongful death from mesothelioma, which was caused from Mr. Poage’s work with the defendant’s products. Mr. Poage served in the U.S. Navy from 1954-58 as a machinist on the USS Haynesworth where he helped maintain the valves on the ship that required replacing gaskets and packing. The plaintiff alleged that…
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Upon Reconsideration, Finding of Jurisdiction Reversed Due to Missouri Supreme Court Ruling in State ex rel. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Dolan U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, April 21, 2017

The plaintiffs were the special representative of the decedent, Berj Hovsepian, a civilian employee of the Navy from 1958-64 who died of mesothelioma. Originally filed in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, it was removed to federal court where defendant CBS Corporation filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After the motion was denied, CBS moved to reconsider due to a change in controlling law. The court reconsidered and reversed its ruling, holding no personal jurisdiction existed over CBS. Motions to reconsider…
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Missouri Court of Appeals Finds Totality of Circumstances Standard Sufficient to Prove Causation under Wisconsin Law Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Division Three, March 28, 2017

Plaintiff Jean Urbach filed suit against 29 defendants on claims of negligence, strict liability, willful and wanton misconduct, and loss of consortium arguing that the defendants’ products caused her husband, Keith Urbach, to be exposed to asbestos, develop mesothelioma, and ultimately was the cause of his death. The plaintiff argues that Urbach was exposed to and inhaled friable asbestos fibers during his career as an electrician from 1963 to 2001. Urbach was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2011 and passed away in February 2012. The…
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