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Retrial Of Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Trial Begins In South Carolina

Posted by David Siegel on Nov 2, 2018 12:19:23 PM

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Darlington, SC - The retrial of a lawsuit claiming asbestos supposedly present in Johnson & Johnson's cosmetic talc products caused a 30-year-old attorney to develop mesothelioma began on Monday in South Carolina state court, and the full trial will be webcast live and on demand by Courtroom View Network.

A hung jury last May caused an initial mistrial in the case, which was also recorded by CVN.

Bertila Boyd-Bostic sued Johnson & Johnson after developing a rare kind of mesothelioma affecting the lining of the heart in 2017. Bostic died with her lawsuit pending, and her husband continued the case, alleging that his late wife inhaled asbestos supposedly present in popular cosmetic talc products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

J&J denies their talc products ever contained asbestos, and claim plaintiff claims to the contrary are based on faulty “attorney-driven” science.

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The original trial included J&J’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, in addition to Rite Aid, where Boyd-Bostic supposedly purchased the talc products she used. Jurors in May did clear Rite Aid of any liability for Bostic’s death, and Imerys has since resolved their claims, so only J&J will remain as a defendant when opening statements take place on Monday.

J&J waged a fierce battle to delay Monday’s trial, claiming that retired South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, who has been pressed back into service to preside over the state’s asbestos docket, unfairly disqualified their lead attorney by commencing the trial on a date that conflicts with other out-of-state trials.

Michael Brown of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s Baltimore office served as lead attorney in the initial trial, and J&J maintains his participation in the retrial is critical, however they argue his presence is required at another asbestos trial in Illinois.

Judge Toal disagreed, noting that J&J’s trial team initially consisted of eight attorneys, including two partners at Brown’s firm with extensive experience in similar litigation. She noted that the plaintiffs legal team includes two members of the South Carolina General Assembly, and that this trial date is necessary to avoid a conflict with their legislative duties.

J&J filed a last minute appeal, but the South Carolina Court of Appeals rebuffed their efforts, finding that Judge Toal’s denial of a request to delay the trial does not amount to a disqualification of counsel.

The plaintiffs are represented by an entirely local team from the South Carolina-based firm Motley Rice LLC. That team is fresh off another J&J talc trial that ended last month in the company’s home state of New Jersey with a unanimous defense verdict. CVN similarly webcast those proceedings. 

Opening statements are expected Monday afternoon, due to South Carolina’s expedited voir dire process that doesn’t allow attorneys to question prospective jurors directly, and the trial is expected to take two weeks to complete.

The full proceedings will be webcast live and on demand by CVN, which has similarly recorded numerous talc and asbestos trials throughout the country, all of which are included in CVN’s one-of-a-kind online trial video archive.

The case is captioned Antoine Bostic, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Bertila Delora Boyd-Bostic v. 3M Company, et al., case number 17-CP-16-0400, in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Darlington.

Email David Siegel at dsiegel@cvn.com

Topics: Products Liability