Jurors in Middlesex County handed Johnson & Johnson a victory Wednesday when they returned a defense verdict in a lawsuit filed by a 58-year-old man who claimed he developed mesothelioma from long-term use of the company’s talc products.
After a half hour of deliberation, the six-member jury concluded the plaintiff failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was exposed to asbestos from Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. The verdict came after four weeks of proceedings before Superior Court Judge Ana Viscomi.
The verdict gives Johnson & Johnson a 2-1 record in its home jurisdiction against plaintiffs claiming they contracted mesothelioma from asbestos in its baby powder.
The verdict also marks a victory for the defense team of Morton Dubin of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Allison Brown of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. And jurors handed a defeat to The Lanier Law Firm team of Monica Cooper, Mark Linder, Joseph Cotilletta and Luz Restrepo, who represented plaintiff Ricardo Rimondi.
Johnson & Johnson issued the following statement about the verdict: “Today’s jury unanimously ruled that Johnson’s baby powder does not contain asbestos and was not the cause of the plaintiff’s disease. It’s important to emphasize the track record in these cases. This is the third verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson in recent months, and of the last nine mesothelioma cases, three ruled in favor of J&J, and five resulted in mistrials. It remains true that of all the talc-related verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appeals process, every one has been overturned. This trial track records underscores the decades of clinical evidence and scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
Cooper, the lead plaintiff-side attorney from The Lanier Law Firm, said in a statement, “We appreciate the careful deliberation of the jury, but are obviously disappointed by the outcome, particularly in light of the overwhelming scientific and documentary evidence supporting the claims of the Rimondi family that J&J’s talcum-based baby powder is laced with asbestos.”
Rimondi was born in Peru and came to the U.S. in 1992. He claimed he used Johnson’s Baby Powder from birth until age 50, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.
In April 2018, Johnson & Johnson and co-defendant Imerys Talc America Inc. were hit with a $117 million verdict in the case of Stephen Lanzo III in the same Middlesex County courtroom where Rimondi’s trial was held. And in October 2018, another Middlesex County jury issued a defense verdict after a trial on behalf of plaintiff Rosalind Henry. The Middlesex County courthouse, where the trials were held, is a short walk from Johnson & Johnson’s global headquarters in downtown New Brunswick.
Besides the $117 million Middlesex verdict, plaintiffs claiming the company’s talc products caused them to develop mesothelioma have won one other verdict: a $25.75 million case in Los Angeles. Other litigation in California linking mesothelioma to J&J’s talc products has ended in two defense verdicts and six mistrials.