Two legal teams with experience in cases alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused mesothelioma faced off on Monday in a trial with a new venue: Alameda County.
“We have a lot of documents. You’re going to see a lot of documents,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Joseph Satterley of Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood told jurors in an opening statement on Monday, according to coverage of the trial by Courtroom View Network. “The evidence will be that J&J knew the asbestos risk, and they continued to sell the product.”
Satterly represents Teresa Leavitt, a California woman diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. His team, which includes firm colleague Denyse Clancy as well as Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg in New York, won a $117 million verdict last year in New Jersey.
Michael Brown, of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Baltimore, Maryland, represents Johnson & Johnson. Brown, who is working with firm colleague Scott Richman, and several lawyers from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, teamed up last year with Bruce Bishop, of Willcox & Savage in Norfolk, Virginia, in representing Johnson & Johnson in a South Carolina case that ended in a mistrial.
Johnson & Johnson plans to make an opening statement on Tuesday. On Monday, its lawyers at Orrick filed a trial brief to exclude references to news articles about talcum powder – in particular, a Dec. 14 investigative piece by Reuters that they called “one-sided” and “replete with misleading statements, critical omissions and inaccuracies.”
Dentons partner Brad DeJardin in Los Angeles also gave opening statements on Monday on behalf of defendant Imerys Talc America Inc.
This week’s trial, in Alameda County Superior Court, involves Leavitt and her husband, Dean McElroy, of San Leandro, California, who allege that her lifetime use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, including as a base for makeup or dry shampoo, caused her mesothelioma diagnosis.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman is presiding over the trial.