Johnson & Johnson Begins Another Florida Cosmetic Talc Trial - Watch Gavel-to-Gavel via CVN

Posted by David Siegel on Apr 2, 2024 11:49:37 AM


CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Lance Oliver delivering his opening statement

Sarasota, FL - A Florida state court jury heard opening statements Monday in the latest trial over allegations Johnson & Johnson’s cosmetic talc powder caused a woman’s fatal ovarian cancer, and the full trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Plaintiffs Phil and Bernard Matthey accuse Johnson & Johnson of selling Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades despite allegedly knowing the popular product posed a serious health risk. Their mother, Patricia Matthey, died in 2019 at the age of 72 of ovarian cancer that they blame on a lifetime of using J&J's cosmetic talc.

The trial is among the the first in Florida dealing with alleged cancer risks associated with cosmetic talc products - which J&J vehemently denies, arguing lawsuits like this one are based on fundamentally flawed scientific studies. It comes shortly after another trial in Miami also recorded by CVN recently ended with a deadlocked jury unable to reach a verdict.


Attorney Lance Oliver of Motley Rice, representing the plaintiffs, told the Sarasota County jury during his opening statement that J&J had evidence dating as far back as the 1960’s that talc-based baby powder posed a cancer risk to consumers, but that they supposedly withheld that information from the public to protect sales of a trusted brand. 

He told jurors Patricia Matthey applied talc powder to her body 41,000 times over 50 years, and that during that time J&J sold baby powder contaminated with asbestos - a claim J&J argues is refuted by the extensive safety testing their talc products underwent.

Oliver noted that the FDA found chrysotile asbestos in a batch of baby powder in 2019 shortly before Matthey’s death, suggesting that discovery prompted J&J to initiate a recall and eventually stop selling talc-based baby powder. The J&J baby powder on shelves today is cornstarch-based.

“If J&J had simply been honest from the very beginning with what they knew about their product, then we would not be here today, and Pat Matthey and her family would not have gone through what they went through,” he said.

Representing J&J, attorney Mort “Morty” Dubin asked jurors to set aside their understandable sympathy for the Matthey family and to instead decide the case strictly based on scientific evidence, which he argued clearly shows J&J’s baby powder did not contain asbestos and did not cause Patricia Matthey’s cancer.

“Despite decades and decades of studies - studies over and over looking at this question, no US health authority has ever concluded that cosmetic talc causes ovarian cancer,” he said during his opening statement. “In fact it’s exactly the contrary.”


CVN screenshot of defense attorney Morty Dubin delivering his opening statement

He stressed the company’s previous recall efforts were strictly voluntary, and that tests supposedly showing the presence of asbestos fibers in baby powder samples were the result of the samples themselves being contaminated and not a larger systemic problem.

Dubin also argued Patricia Matthey had risk factors that made her more predisposed to develop ovarian cancer than the general population, specifically her age and a family history of cancer. Both Matthey’s mother and daughter developed breast cancer, which Dubin said showed a congenital vulnerability to genetic changes that can result in the disease. 

The full trial is expected to take up to three weeks to complete, and CVN’s gavel-to-gavel coverage will continue for the duration of the proceedings.

The case is captioned Matthey v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 2018CA004809 in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit in Sarasota County.

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Topics: Asbestos, Florida, Talc