Augusta, GA— Attorneys Monday faced off over what caused a former teacher's ovarian cancer death, as one of Georgia’s first trials over alleged links between talcum powder and the disease opened against Johnson & Johnson. Monroe v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., 2018RCSC01222.Margie Evans, who had taught elementary school for roughly 30 years in Richmond County, Georgia, died in 2018 from ovarian cancer. Evans’ family contends that her cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder, which Evans, who was 77 when she died, used for decades.
During Monday’s openings, the Barnes Law Group’s John Bevis highlighted evidence he said showed J&J knew of asbestos in its Baby Powder, but failed to warn the public of the danger. Bevis noted internal documents in which he said J&J discussed asbestos in its talc, but generally used different terms for the fiber. Bevis contrasted these documents with the company’s marketing of a gentle, family-friendly product.
“When it comes to what their position is, it’s ‘Mom,’ when they’re marketing their product, and it’s ‘mum,’ when they’re finding that there’s asbestos in it,” Bevis said. “That’s not how a responsible company behaves. That’s not how a responsible company should behave.”
But J&J contends there is no link between its Baby Powder and Evans’ death. During Monday’s openings, Shook Hardy & Bacon’s Kenneth Reilly told jurors evidence would show there was no asbestos in the company’s Baby Powder.
Reilly added that Dr. Victor Roggli, a pathologist and expert on asbestos-related disease, found no asbestos that would have caused cancer in tissue samples plaintiff’s attorneys sent him. Moreover, Reilly said, Roggli had previously written that there was no link between asbestos exposure and ovarian cancer. “Asbestos does not cause ovarian cancer. That’s their expert,” Reilly said. “That is the end of this case, ladies and gentlemen. That’s it.”
The case is among Georgia's first cosmetic talc suits to go to trial. In 2019, Fulton County State Court jurors deadlocked over whether J&J’s talc products caused Diane Brower’s ovarian cancer death, the first case in the state to go before a jury.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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