A Missouri Supreme Court ruling earlier this month could minimize the liability and the number of large trials Johnson & Johnson face over claims that its baby powder and other talc products cause cancer, Reuters reports.
According to the Feb. 13 ruling, the case before St. Louis’s 22nd Circuit Court committed a “clear and direct violation” of state law in allowing 21 plaintiffs from outside the city to join the case of one St. Louis resident.
In its decision, the Missouri Supreme Court said such use of joinder — combining two or more cases — would allow courts to hear cases they otherwise could not.
The ruling could give the New Jersey-based J&J an advantage in defending smaller, isolated cases, according to Reuters.
While many of the plaintiffs’ lawyers have downplayed the impact of the joinder ruling, J&J said it is pleased.
“One claim that is property before a court cannot provide a basis for drawing into a trial other claims that are not,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “We believe that decision is clearly correct, and we continue to believe that the science doesn’t support plaintiffs’ claims.”