Massive California verdict expands J&J's talc battlefield


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A massive California verdict in a lawsuit alleging Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) talc-based products cause cancer has opened a new front in the litigation, upending the company’s hopes that the cases were only gaining traction in Missouri, legal experts said.

The $417 million award by California jury to a California resident suggested so-called forum-shopping, in which parties seek to file cases in whichever jurisdictions seem most favorable, may not be the main problem facing J&J as it wrestles with some 4,800 outstanding talc lawsuits.

J&J, which denies any link between talc and cancer, said in a statement it would appeal Monday’s verdict but declined further comment.

That verdict was more than the sum of all the previous talc awards, which totaled $307 million and were meted out by juries in the same state court in St. Louis, Missouri, in cases filed by out-of-state residents. A fourth of talc lawsuits nationally were brought in St. Louis after the…

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