With new talc trials on the horizon, with two having been scheduled for September according to Law360, Courtroom Connect’s CVN brings a clip from this May’s talc trial out of the video vault.
“It was a closing argument that swayed jurors on the purported dangers of talc, and opened the door to a $55 million verdict in a trial that will likely influence years of coming litigation,” the CVN broadcast reported.
CVN focuses on the closing arguments of plaintiff’s attorney Allen Smith who had to convince jurors that a product they’d known and trusted their entire lives, Johnson’s Baby Powder, “can cause potentially catastrophic harm.” The plaintiff Gloria Ristesund claimed that her 40 years of using the company’s talc-based products caused the ovarian cancer that she was diagnosed with in 2011. The station calls this a “high hurdle” the defense attorney tried to use to her advantage.
“We’re here because Ms. Ristesund claims that baby powder, a product that’s been on the market and used for 125 years by our mothers, our grandmothers, and all our babies, caused [her] ovarian cancer,” J&J’s attorney said in openings according to CVN. “Nobody knows what causes ovarian cancer.”
However, jurors disagreed that it was that simple, and were convinced by the science presented by the plaintiff’s attorneys, according to The Associated Press. They decided that Johnson and Johnson’s product contributed to Ristesund’s cancer and that the company had enough information to have warned her of the risk.
CVN reported, “In a powerful closing argument, he (Smith) accused J&J of manufacturing ‘doubt’ about talc’s link to cancer and he grouped J&J with manufacturers of common products now infamous for the diseases they cause. ‘It is the same game plan (companies) used in asbestos. It is the same game plan (companies) use in tobacco. It is the same game plan they’re trying to sell here,’ Smith said.”
The jury awarded a $55 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
“I will never use talc again. It’s definitely concerning to me,” Teri Brickey, jury forewoman, told The Associated Press.
Also featured in CVN’s video clip and article were Smith’s comments to jurors about the significance of this case. “This is a very, very important matter,” Smith said. “…This may be a big part of your lives that you’ll talk about with your family members… That you’ll talk to your children, your grandchildren about…This is an opportunity to address a known risk factor that affects thousands of women,” CVN broadcasts.
Smith said all women, “deserve to be able to make informed decisions about their health and safety,” CVN reported.
That has in fact been a result of these first two talc trials of 2016. Because of the attention-getting verdicts of $72 million and $55 million against such a well-known and beloved product, countless women who had never heard of the decades of research being done linking talc to ovarian cancer for the first time began to read news pieces from a vast variety of sources bringing the topic to light. Consumers who weren’t warned by Johnson and Johnson about the epidemiological studies linking talc and cancer, studies presented to jurors during both trials, were finally given information that allowed them to make informed choices.