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Firm Cleared In Baby Powder Cancer Case

Gavel and a stethoscope
Flickr Creative

A divided appeals court Wednesday said an out-of-state firm that mines and sells talc should be dismissed from a Broward County lawsuit alleging that a woman developed ovarian cancer because of the use of talcum powder.

The 4th District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, said Florida courts do not have “jurisdiction” over Imerys Talc America, Inc. because of its lack of contact with Florida.

The ruling came in a case filed by Judith Ricketts against Imerys Talc America, Johnson & Johnson and Publix Super Markets.

Ricketts alleged that her ovarian cancer was linked to Johnson & Johnson talcum powder, which included talc mined and sold by Imerys Talc America.

But the appeals-court ruling said Imerys Talc America’s principal place of business is California and did not have contact with Florida that would make it subject to the lawsuit. Imerys produced a component in one state (not Florida) and sold it to a different company in a different state,” said the majority opinion, written by appeals-court Judge Jeffrey Kuntz and joined by Judge Mark Klingensmith.

“It directed no action or activities to Florida.” But Judge Carole Taylor dissented, writing that Imerys “placed its talc into the stream of commerce over a period of decades with the knowledge and intention that it would be sold in Florida as the main ingredient” in Johnson & Johnson baby powder. “In short, this is not a case involving a single isolated sale or even multiple occasional sales,” Taylor wrote. “The relevant allegations of the plaintiff’s complaint have not been disputed, and they demonstrate ‘continuous and systematic activity’ by Imerys to serve the Florida market.”