Johnson & Johnson baby powder/Photo: Raihana Asral/Shutterstock.com

 

A second jury in two weeks has failed to reach a verdict in a trial alleging Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused mesothelioma.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Maloney declared a mistrial on Tuesday, the third day of jury deliberations in a trial that began about a month ago. The mistrial comes a little over a week after another jury deadlocked in a separate trial against Johnson & Johnson involving the same Dallas-based plaintiffs firm, Simon Greenstone Panatier. In that case, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Margaret Oldendorf declared a mistrial following a week of deliberations and numerous efforts to assist the jury in reaching a verdict.

“We are grateful to the court and jury for their time and careful consideration of the facts in this case,” wrote Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Kimberly Montagnino. “This is the second mistrial as a result of a hung jury in two weeks, which we believe reflects the careful consideration by these juries of the real science in these cases. We look forward to a new trial to present our defense—which rests on decades of independent, non-litigation driven scientific evaluations, none of which have found that Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos.”

Johnson & Johnson was represented by King & Spalding partner Alexander Calfo and counsel Julia Romano, both in Los Angeles, and Bruce Hurley, a partner in Houston.

Simon Greenstone shareholder Stuart Purdy in Long Beach, California, along with John Caron of Worthington & Caron in San Pedro, California, represented two plaintiffs: Kirk Von Salzen, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017, and his wife, Janet. A Simon Greenstone spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about the case.

In the previous trial, Jay Stuemke, a shareholder at Simon Greenstone in Dallas, represented plaintiff Carolyn Weirick, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Christopher Vejnoska, a partner in San Francisco, represented Johnson & Johnson.

This week’s trial is the seventh alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused mesothelioma. Two other cases—one in Los Angeles Superior Court and one in Darlington County Circuit Court in South Carolina—ended in mistrials.

The first ended with a defense verdict on Nov. 16 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Another Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $25.75 million this year, followed by a $117 million award in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Jersey.

Another trial is pending in Middlesex County.

The trials are separate from the nearly 5,000 cases alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused women to get ovarian cancer. In those cases, juries in Missouri and California have come out with five verdicts ranging from $55 million to $4.7 billion, though two awards have since been tossed out.

Unlike those cases, which have focused on the alleged links between Johnson & Johnson’s talc products and ovarian cancer, the mesothelioma cases target whether cosmetic talc products contained asbestos, which is known to cause mesothelioma.