Johnson & Johnson Scores Cosmetic Talc Trial Victory in Missouri

Posted by David Siegel on Sep 27, 2021 10:44:10 PM

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CVN screenshot of defense attorney Allison Brown delivering her closing argument

St. Louis, MO - A Missouri state court jury sided with Johnson & Johnson on Monday in a lawsuit claiming three women developed ovarian cancer due to use of the company’s cosmetic talc products like Johnson’s Baby Powder.

The jury returned its verdict a few hours after the conclusion of closing arguments in a trial that began on September 9. The case marked the first cosmetic trial in St. Louis, a key jurisdiction for cosmetic talc cases, since late 2019. The first cosmetic talc trial against J&J took place in St. Louis, and in 2018 a St. Louis jury awarded a $4.7 billion verdict in a similar case.

Attorneys for women and their families in the current case argued J&J knew for years that talc particles could travel up the Fallopian tubes and cause cancer, but J&J argued the science the plaintiffs rely on to support these claims is deeply flawed and that the company’s cosmetic talc products undergo extensive testing to ensure their safety.

The full trial was recorded and webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, which has recorded numerous cosmetic talc trials from across the United States, including in Missouri.

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J&J spokesperson Melissa Muñoz told CVN after the trial that cosmetic talc cases like this one are being driven by attorneys seeking large verdicts and not the scientific evidence, citing a defense verdict that came in for the company today in Philadelphia along with the defense verdicts in the three womens’ cases in Missouri.

“The three verdicts today in the company’s favor are now four claims in a row that have been unanimously rejected by juries in these cases,” Muñoz said. “And yet, despite the lack of any scientific evidence to support their claims, the plaintiff trial bar continues to push forward with its misinformation campaign to drive baseless and inflammatory headlines in the hopes they can force a resolution of these cases.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Ted Meadows of the Beasley Allen Law Firm, who sought nearly $100 million in compensatory damages and hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive damages, told CVN his team respects the jury’s decision but believes that the evidence “shows J&J’s awareness of the dangers of talc for decades and a resulting series of corporate denials and cover-ups.”

“We will continue to present this evidence in a number of upcoming trials, and remain confident in securing justice for the victims of these dangerous products,” Meadows said.

Meadows represented women in a number of crucial initial talc trials in St. Louis that returned headline-grabbing multi-million verdicts that thrust the issue of cosmetic talc safety into the national spotlight. In 2019 J&J announced it was discontinuing sales of talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada.

Another trial involving an alleged link between ovarian cancer and J&J’s products is currently underway in Georgia state court, and that trial is also being webcast gavel-to-gavel by CVN.

The Missouri, Pennsylvania and Georgia cases, and an Illinois case that ended in a defense verdict over the summer, are part of an uptick in talc trials focusing on ovarian cancer. To date the majority of cosmetic talc trials involved plaintiffs who claim they developed mesothelioma by inhaling talc particles supposedly contaminated with asbestos.

Thousands of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma-related talc cases remain pending against J&J in state and federal courts throughout the country, but the company is rumored to be planning a business reorganization which could result in the consolidation of their talc liabilities followed by a bankruptcy filing, which could potentially thwart any additional future trials.

The plaintiffs in the St. Louis case are Victoria Giese, Angela Trentmann and Susan Vogeler.

They were represented at trial by Meadows and Allen Smith of the Smith Law Firm PLLC.

J&J was represented by Allison Brown of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and by Michael Brown of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

The case is captioned Giese, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 1522-CC00419-02 in Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit.

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Topics: product liability, Talc