J&J Faces Talc Trial Over Anesthesiologist’s Ovarian Cancer Death, Watch Online via CVN

Posted by David Siegel on Feb 14, 2024 2:04:24 PM


CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Lance Oliver delivering his opening statement

Miami, FL - A Florida state court jury heard opening statements Tuesday in a lawsuit claiming Johnson & Johnson’s cosmetic talc products caused a deceased anesthesiologist’s rare form of ovarian cancer, and the full trial is being webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Plaintiff Bob Sugarman sued Johnson & Johnson on behalf of his late wife, Marilyn Seskin. Seskin died in 2019 of primary peritoneal cancer, an extremely rare form of ovarian cancer, after being diagnosed three years earlier at the age of 66. His lawsuit blames a lifetime of her using products like Johnson’s Baby Powder for causing his wife’s cancer, but J&J maintains their cosmetic talc products are safe and had nothing to do with Seskin’s illness.

Attorney Lance Oliver of Motley Rice, representing Sugarman, told the Miami-Dade County jury during his opening statement that J&J supposedly knew for decades that their talc-based cosmetic products were contaminated with asbestos. He said he would show documents proving J&J knew their talc products posed a health risk to consumers but withheld that information to protect sales of a popular product.

“Johnson & Johnson recognized internally that this relationship of trust that it had developed with women and with mothers in particular was something monetarily valuable to them,” Oliver told the jury.

Defense attorney Allison Brown of Skadden, representing J&J, insisted the company’s talc products have always been safe and were extensively tested to screen for asbestos. She suggested primary peritoneal cancer would be far more widespread if it had any link to talc powder use and noted Seskin had many of the risk factors associated with the rare illness.

“There is not a single epidemiology study that concludes cosmetic talc causes ovarian cancer or primary peritoneal cancer,” Brown told the jury.


CVN screenshot of defense attorney Allison Brown delivering her opening statement

The ongoing trial in Miami is among the first since J&J’s talc-related litigation resumed following a lengthy stay associated with the company’s controversial bankruptcy filings of spinoff LTL Management - an entity designed to hold J&J's talc-related liabilities - and among the first cosmetic trials in Florida state court overall.

In addition to thousands of personal injury lawsuits involving both ovarian cancer and mesothelioma supposedly linked to talc exposure, J&J also faces other significant litigation related to cosmetic talc products.

Last November a New Jersey federal judge certified a class action filed by investors accusing the company of concealing the dangers of its talc products.

In January J&J struck a $700 million deal to resolve an investigation by 40 states into the company’s marketing of its talc products.

The ongoing trial in Miami, expected to up to a month to complete, is taking place before Judge William Thomas.

The case is captioned Sugarman v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 2019CA017627 in Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit. 

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Topics: Asbestos, Florida, Talc