CVN screenshots of plaintiffs attorney Allen Smith, left, and defense attorney Allison Brown, right, delivering their opening statements
St. Louis, MO - A Missouri state court jury heard opening statements Thursday in the first cosmetic talc trial dealing with ovarian cancer to take place in nearly two years, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
While a small handful of mesothelioma-related cosmetic talc cases have taken place virtually and in-person since the pandemic shutdown last year, no ovarian cancer trials have taken place since a trial in St. Louis in December of 2019 ended in a defense verdict for Johnson & Johnson.
The current case, filed on behalf of three women who claim years of using cosmetic talc products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene caused them to develop ovarian cancer, is largely a rematch of that previous trial in terms of the attorneys involved.
The plaintiffs are represented by Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm, who delivered Thursday’s opening statement, along with attorneys from the Beasley Allen Law Firm. Both firms have taken numerous cosmetic talc cases to trial against Johnson & Johnson, including many of the initial trials against the company that took place in St. Louis starting in 2016.
Smith argued that J&J knew for years that its talc products posed a cancer risk, but that they supposedly withheld that information from consumers in order to protect the sales of popular household brands even while safer cornstarch-based body powders were available.
J&J, represented by Allison Brown of defense juggernaut Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, argued that the studies the plaintiffs rely on showing a supposed link between cosmetic talc use and ovarian cancer are flawed, and that the company took extensive steps to test their talc and ensure its safety.
The trial is taking place before Judge Rex Burlison, who has presided over all of the cosmetic talc trials in St. Louis to date. The case is among the first major in-person product liability cases to take place in Missouri since 2020, due to a massive backlog of criminal cases following the pandemic shutdown.
In addition to webcasting the full St. Louis trial live and on-demand, CVN will also stream gavel-to-gavel video of another J&J cosmetic talc trial involving ovarian cancer starting next week in Georgia state court. That will be just the second J&J talc trial in the state, after an earlier case ended in a mistrial.
Both trials take place against the backdrop of persistent rumors about J&J consolidating their talc liabilities into a new business entity and then seeking bankruptcy protection for that unit to avoid potentially billions of dollars in future verdicts and settlements. In June the United States Supreme Court upheld a $2 billion award against J&J stemming from another cosmetic talc trial in St. Louis that CVN also filmed and webcast.
A Delaware bankruptcy judge recently declined to enjoin J&J from making these moves on the basis it would be premature, as the company had not taken formal steps to implement the supposed plan at the time.
The St. Louis case is captioned Giese, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 1522-CC00419-02 in Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit Court.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org