Johnson & Johnson scored a defense verdict Tuesday in the latest trial alleging its baby powder caused mesothelioma.
A jury in South Carolina rendered the verdict on the same day as closing arguments in a trial that began May 13. The verdict also came as a New York jury on Tuesday awarded $25 million in compensatory damages in a similar mesothelioma trial against Johnson & Johnson.
In South Carolina, plaintiffs attorneys at Motley Rice have struggled in a previous case to win over jurors.
“This is the fifth verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson in recent months, and the two cases finding in favor of the plaintiff this year have suffered significant evidentiary errors which we believe will warrant reversal on appeal,” wrote Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Kimberly Montagnino in an emailed statement.
The previous cases in which plaintiffs have won were last year and ended in verdicts of $25.75 million in California and $117 million in New Jersey. Another trial, in California, ended with a $29 million verdict in March.
In South Carolina, Motley Rice’s W. Christopher Swett, an associate in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Nathan Finch, a member in Washington, D.C., represented Beth-Anee Johnson, who was diagnosed in 2016 with mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder since the 1960s.
Motley Rice issued a statement following the verdict. “We continue to believe that the daily use of talcum powder on Beth-Anee from birth led to her mesothelioma diagnosis,” the statement said. “She ultimately wanted to share her story with others through her suit, which I think she accomplished, so that more people are aware of the potential dangers of seemingly harmless baby powder.”
Michael Brown, of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Baltimore, and Allison Brown, a partner in Princeton, New Jersey, at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, represented Johnson & Johnson in the trial. Nelson Mullins’ Brown faced off against Motley Rice in the other South Carolina case, brought by the widow of Bertila Boyd-Bostic, a lawyer who died at age 30. Two trials in that case ended in mistrials.
Weil’s Brown won the New Jersey defense verdict in March.
Johnson & Johnson, in its statement, gave reasons for the win in South Carolina, while losing in New York.
“Unlike a similar case in New York where the jury did not hear critical information regarding false testimony by the plaintiff’s central testing expert, this South Carolina jury heard that information and unanimously concluded that Johnson’s baby powder does not contain asbestos and was not the cause of the plaintiff’s disease,” Montagnino wrote.