Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable
Rex M. Burlison
SHERRIB SULLIVAN, J.
Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer
Companies Inc., and Imerys Talc America, Inc. (hereinafter
collectively Appellants) appeal from the judgment of the
trial court entered after a jury found them liable to Lois
Slemp (Respondent) for actual and punitive damages relating
to Respondent's use of talc products. We reverse and
vacate the judgment.
and Procedural Background
underlying case was commenced by 62 plaintiffs against
Appellants for damages related to the use of talc products.
Of the 62 plaintiffs, 61 were non-residents of Missouri.
Respondent, a native of Virginia, was one of the non-resident
claims were tried separately from the other plaintiffs'
claims. Respondent alleged she had used Appellants' talc
products for many years, and in 2012 developed cancer as a
result. The talc products Respondent used were manufactured
in Georgia, and purchased and used by Respondent in Virginia.
jury returned a verdict in favor of Respondent, awarding her
both actual and punitive damages.
the return of the jury verdict, the trial court entered
judgment on August 3, 2017. In its judgment, the trial court
found pursuant to Rule 74.01(b) there was no just reason to delay
entry of final judgment on Respondent's claims. Near that
time, the United States Supreme Court handed down its opinion
in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of Ca.,
137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017) (BMS). On September 1, 2017,
Appellants filed several after-trial motions, including a
motion requesting the trial court enter judgment
notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. Appellants
argued the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over
Appellants as to Respondent's claims, citing
BMS. On October 18, 2017, 76 days after the trial
court entered judgment, Respondent filed a Motion to
Temporarily Vacate Order of Judgment and to Open Discovery on
Personal Jurisdiction. Respondent's motion was called and
heard on November 13, 2017.
November 29, 2017, the trial court entered an order disposing
of post-trial motions. This order denied Respondent's
Motion to Temporarily Vacate Order of Judgment and to Open
Discovery on Personal Jurisdiction as untimely. The trial
court also denied Appellants' motions regarding personal
jurisdiction. The trial court signaled its intent to reopen
the record to allow Respondent to present additional evidence
to attempt to establish the trial court's personal
jurisdiction over Appellants. That same day, the trial court
also issued an order striking and removing the language from
the August 3, 2017 judgment finding no just reason for delay
and certifying it for appeal.
to Hear Appeal
appeal from the judgment of the trial court entered August 3,
2017, making 15 separate claims of error. However, as a
preliminary matter we must address whether this Court has the
authority to hear this appeal.
claim this case is properly before this Court by virtue of
the Rule 74.01(b) certification for appeal by the trial
court. Respondent claims there is no final judgment, and thus
no appealable decision, because the trial court reconsidered
and struck its Rule 74.01(b) certification. Appellants
counter by claiming the trial court was without authority to
modify its August 3, 2017 judgment in such a way, because
more than 30 days had passed since it originally entered
judgment, and no party requested the trial court strike its
Rule 74.01(b) certification in an authorized and timely