stock image of talc powder
September marks a busy month for Johnson & Johnson’s legal department, as the company faces three trials over claims that its popular talc-based baby powder products contain asbestos, and the trials will all be webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
The first trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court is already in progress after beginning in August. Closing arguments are tentatively slated for September 14. The Dallas-based firm Simon Greenstone Panatier heads up the plaintiffs' team. The same firm represented plaintiffs in the three previous trials to date in Los Angeles County involving mesothelioma claims related to products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Those previous trials generated a defense verdict, a plaintiffs verdict and a mistrial.
Jury selection is underway at a second trial in New Jersey state court, where Johnson & Johnson has its headquarters. Opening statements are tentatively slated for September 17. The plaintiffs are represented by a team from the South Carolina-based firm Motley Rice.
That trial will be just second J&J talc powder trial in New Jersey, after a previous trial earlier this year ended in a $117 million verdict. It will also be the first trial in New Jersey involving Colgate’s cosmetic talc products, and the first talc/mesothelioma trial in the country involving both J&J and Colgate as defendants. J&J’s talc supplier Imerys is also a defendant.
A third trial begins on September 10 in South Carolina state court, and highlights the differences in the jury selection processes used throughout the country. While jury selection will span weeks in New Jersey, it will likely only take a few hours in South Carolina (where attorneys are barred from asking prospective jurors direct questions during void dire), with opening statements scheduled for later that afternoon.
The plaintiffs are represented by a team from the Texas-based firm Dean Omar Branham. J&J is also joined by Colgate as a defendant, however they are amongst more than 70 defendants initially listed in the complaint. In addition to allegedly using cosmetic talc products for decades, the plaintiff also spent years supposedly working around a wide range asbestos-containing products, and numerous summary judgment motions remain pending.
The only previous J&J talc powder trial in South Carolina ended in a mistrial earlier this year.
Plaintiffs in all three trials allege defendants know their talc products contained asbestos but withheld that information from consumers to protect the sales of popular brands.
J&J, Colgate and Imerys all deny that their talc ever contained asbestos. They argue they performed extensive testing on their talc products to ensure their safety, and that claims by plaintiffs are based on “attorney-driven” science.
Live gavel-to-gavel video of all three trials will be available to CVN subscribers. CVN’s archive also includes numerous ovarian cancer and mesothelioma-related talc trials from Missouri, California, New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida.
The cases are captioned:
Weirick v. Brenntag North America, et al., case number BC656425, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, CA.
Henry v. Brenntag North America, et al., case number L-1748-17, in Middlesex County Superior Court, NJ.
Waters v. Agco Corp., et al., case number 2017-CP-40-05462, in Richland County Superior Court, SC.
E-mail David Siegel at email@example.com