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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Johnson & Johnson asks for change of venue in talcum powder case; St. Louis market airs quarter of all ads nationwide

By April Bamburg | Aug 22, 2016

ST. LOUIS – Attorneys representing Johnson & Johnson in a talcum powder-ovarian cancer lawsuit have filed a motion for a change of venue saying the jury pool has been unfairly influenced by an extraordinary amount of lawyer advertising in the St. Louis market.

In a motion filed with the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, the company's attorneys say the pool of potential jurors for the case of Tiffany Hogans v. Johnson & Johnson has been tainted by advertisements announcing recent verdicts in the court and encouraging potential litigants to contact plaintiff's attorneys. Specifically, the motion states that approximately 319 advertisements, or 23 percent of the advertisements in the nation for talcum powder litigation, ran in the St. Louis area between March and May of this year.

Rustin Silverstein | Courtesy of X-Ante

Another reason for venue change is that Johnson & Johnson believes that media coverage of the verdicts could harm their case, according to the motion for a change of venue.

They request that the trial be moved out of the St. Louis area and at least 100 miles away.

"Given the size of the media market, there was a disproportionate number of advertisements for talcum powder litigation," attorney Rustin Silverstein told the Record. "Since the verdicts last spring, St. Louis gets more than its share."

Silverstein is the president of X-Ante, a company that specializes in analyzing mass tort litigation advertising. He was hired by attorneys for Johnson & Johnson to report on the prevalence of advertisements related to talcum powder and ovarian cancer in the St. Louis area.

His affidavit states that in the last year, “more ads were broadcast and more was spent on these ads on local broadcast networks in St. Louis than in any other media market." Between July 1, 2015, and June 30 of this year, plaintiffs’ law firms aired “nearly 19,000” talcum powder litigation commercials on national and local television networks at an estimated cost of $9.7 million, he says. 

"Having watched as many of these ads as I have, it is very hard for someone viewing these not to come away with concerns. Their ad copy and sales pitch talk about a link," Silverstein said.

Advertising by plaintiff's attorneys for mass tort lawsuits has become big business, he said. 

"It's been increasing in lockstep with the value of jury awards," Silverstein said. "It's become a competitive industry. There's a whole industry for lead generation for mass tort lawsuits. There are claims processing centers and nonprofit entities that generate these leads and sell them to plaintiff's attorneys."

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Johnson & Johnson