Oregon Jury Hears Openings In Latest J&J Talc/Mesothelioma Trial - Watch Gavel-to-Gavel via CVN

Posted by David Siegel on May 15, 2024 2:00:53 PM


CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Benjamin Adams delivering his opening statement

Portland, OR - An Oregon state court jury heard opening statements last week in a lawsuit claiming asbestos supposedly present in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based cosmetic products caused a woman to develop fatal cancer, and the full trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Plaintiff Kyung Lee, born in 1974, claims a lifetime of using Johnson’s Baby Powder gave her mesothelioma - a lethal form of cancer affecting tissue around the lungs that is frequently associated with asbestos exposure. Her lawsuit accuses J&J of knowing their talc products contained asbestos but withholding that information from the public, however J&J denies any liability for Lee’s illness and maintains her asbestos exposure occurred from other sources.

Lee’s trial marks just the second involving mesothelioma talc claims against J&J since the company lost a bid in bankruptcy court to dispose of the cases. The other trials to date, except for one, involved ovarian cancer claims - including one that ended recently with a defense verdict in Florida also covered by CVN.

The plaintiff firm in the Oregon trial, Dallas-based Dean Omar Branham Shirley, also represented the plaintiffs in the only other post-bankruptcy J&J mesothelioma talc trial to date. That case ended with a $45 million verdict in Cook County, Illinois, where cameras remain prohibited in civil court proceedings.


Dean Omar’s Benjamin Adams told jurors during his opening statement that J&J voluntarily recalled 33,000 bottles of talc-based baby powder in 2019 after FDA testing found they contained asbestos.

Adams said the FDA findings confirmed internal J&J studies he argued showed the company knew its talc products were contaminated with asbestos, a claim defense attorney Will Stute of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe vehemently denied during his opening statement.


CVN screenshot of defense attorney Will Stute delivering his opening statement

Stute told jurors studies finding the type of asbestos found in Lee’s lungs in J&J products are based on fundamentally flawed studies. He said J&J subjected its talc products to rigorous safety testing, and that Lee’s asbestos exposure was more likely from a textile plant she grew up near in South Korea.

Attorneys for both sides can be seen securing major verdicts last year in trials also covered by CVN.

Jessica Dean landed a $29.14 million verdict in a cosmetic talc trial in South Carolina state court, while Will Stute secured a defense verdict for the NCAA in a bellwether trial over liability for athlete’s head injuries.

Both trials, along with dozens of cosmetic talc and asbestos cases and hundreds more in a wide range of practice areas are available with a monthly or annual subscription to CVN’s online trial video library.

The current trial, before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Katharine von Ter Stegge, is drawing increased scrutiny after J&J announced on May 1 plans for another bankruptcy filing that would pay out $6.48 billion to ovarian cancer victims but would not include mesothelioma cases.

The Oregon case is captioned Lee v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 23CV400369.

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Topics: Asbestos