FLORIDA – The plaintiff, Patricia Matthey, filed suit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Imerys Talc and Publix Super Markets in Florida State Court, alleging that asbestos in J&J baby powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. Imerys was dismissed due to a lack of personal jurisdiction and subsequently declared bankruptcy. As it did in thousands of other cases, J&J recently removed the matter to federal court based on federal court jurisdiction over pending bankruptcy actions. J&J filed a motion to stay while its motion to fix venue in the District Court of Delaware is pending.
The Middle District of Florida denied the motion to stay based on the significant prejudice it would cause the plaintiff, particularly given her poor health and the possibility that she will not live to see her day in court if the case is stayed. The case had a trial date of April 2020 while it was pending in state court, and the district court noted it would be difficult for those deadlines to be met if the case were stayed and then remanded. Additionally, J&J noted that even if the case is remanded, the Delaware District Court will still be able to transfer the case to that court if it decides that is the proper venue. Finally, J&J will not be precluded from pursuing an indemnity claim against Imerys if the instant matter proceeds in state court. For all of these reasons, the court denied the motion to stay.
Read the case decision here.