Missouri Appeals Court Vacates $72 Million Verdict For Lack Of Personal Jurisdiction

by Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell
Contact

Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell

In a significant defense win applying recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, a Missouri appeals court reversed and vacated a $72 million judgment for lack of personal jurisdiction. Estate of Jacqueline Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, et al. (Mo. Ct. App. Oct.17, 2017). The court ruled that under Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), the trial court improperly exercised personal jurisdiction over a non-resident plaintiff’s claims, even though they were joined with claims of Missouri plaintiffs alleging similar injuries. The court dismissed the case with prejudice, rejecting plaintiff’s request to conduct additional discovery aimed at establishing personal jurisdiction.

Sixty five individual plaintiffs filed suit alleging that they developed ovarian cancer after using the out-of- state defendants’ talcum powder products. Two of the plaintiffs were Missouri residents. The other sixty three plaintiffs bought and used the defendants’ products in other states. They joined their claims under a Missouri procedural rule allowing joinder of non-residents’ claims with those of Missouri residents arising out of the same transactions or occurrences.

The trial court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the non-resident’s claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that the defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with the state and that the non-resident plaintiffs were not each required to establish an independent basis for jurisdiction. The claims of one of the non-resident plaintiffs, Ms. Fox, were then tried individually. The jury returned a verdict for Fox of $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson appealed, asserting lack of personal jurisdiction because Fox’s claims did not arise out of any conduct of the defendants in Missouri.

The Missouri appeals court reversed based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb that was issued in June 2017 while the appeal was pending. The Court in Bristol-Myers Squibb held that, for there to be specific personal jurisdiction, there must be a connection between the forum state and the particular plaintiff’s claims. Otherwise, “specific jurisdiction is lacking regardless of the extent of a defendant’s unconnected activities in the state,” and regardless of whether the claims are joined with those of resident plaintiffs who sustained similar injuries. 137 S.Ct. at 1781. There was no such connection here between Fox’s claims and the state of Missouri.

The court also rejected plaintiff’s request to remand and allow discovery aimed at establishing jurisdiction under the Bristol-Myers Squibb standard. It stated that, even if Bristol-Myers Squibb represents a change in the law, there was no authority supporting plaintiff’s request to re-open discovery in light of the advanced posture of the case. A concurring opinion went a step further, concluding that Bristol-Myers Squibb did not establish new rules for personal jurisdiction, but instead was a “reaffirmation of the traditional rules of personal jurisdiction” set out in the Supreme Court’s 2014 opinion in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746—which was argued by the parties before the trial court—and even earlier in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945).

In the concurring judge’s view, Fox had “ample opportunity” to present additional evidence to the trial court, but failed to do so.

The appeals court ruling indicates that other verdicts obtained by non-resident plaintiffs in Missouri and elsewhere may be reversed. As state courts apply Bristol-Myers Squibb, plaintiffs will be forced to pursue their claims either in the state where their injury arose or in the defendants’ home state. The decision also highlights the importance of preserving objections to personal jurisdiction, particularly in class actions and mass tort cases.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell
Contact
more
less

Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.