The announcement by Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) that it will no longer sell baby powder with talc in the United States and Canada is a victory for public health. It is also a victory that Levy Konigsberg and many of its brave and courageous mesothelioma clients helped make a reality. The story of Levy Konigsberg’s work with our mesothelioma clients on this important public health issue dates back many years and has evolved through many cases involving many manufacturers and suppliers of talc, including Johnson & Johnson.
Although the firm has been representing clients with mesothelioma for more than thirty years, it has been only in the last ten to fifteen years that the firm has obtained the documents uncovering the widespread exposures to asbestos caused by talc products. Partner Moshe Maimon tried and won the first talc mesothelioma verdict in 2006 in the Peter Hirsch case. Mr. Hirsch developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos from industrial talc that was used in his pottery studio. Subsequently, the firm began investigating exposure to asbestos caused by the use of talcum powders used on babies and adults. Partner Audrey Raphael worked to uncover evidence of asbestos in a popular talcum powder product with a floral fragrance that caused several of the firm’s clients to develop mesothelioma.
In 2017, Levy Konigsberg won a multi-million dollar verdict in the Florence Nemeth mesothelioma case against a major talc supplier who sold talc to many different U.S. talc product manufacturers. The Nemeth verdict was the first talc mesothelioma verdict to be affirmed on appeal in the State of New York.
It was also in 2017 that Levy Konigsberg obtained millions of pages of documents from Johnson & Johnson on behalf of numerous clients of the firm who developed mesothelioma after long-term use of Johnson’s Baby Powder. In 2018, many of those documents were presented to the jury in the landmark Stephen Lanzo mesothelioma trial. With Partner Moshe Maimon serving as lead trial counsel in the Lanzo case, the firm won a $117 million dollar jury verdict in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson and one of its talc suppliers. The jury found that Mr. Lanzo’s mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to asbestos from Johnson’s Baby Powder and awarded punitive damages.
In 2019, Partner Moshe Maimon also served as co-trial counsel in a $29.3 million dollar jury verdict in which a California jury found that Theresa Leavitt’s mesothelioma was caused by her use of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
In 2019, Partner Jerome Block tried and won the first mesothelioma case against Johnson and Johnson tried in New York. The Manhattan jury awarded $325 million in the Donna Olson case (this case is currently awaiting final review on appeal). The jury awarded punitive damages, concluding that J&J’s conduct was wanton and willful. Closing arguments in the Olson case were filmed by the New York Times and some of it appeared on an episode of the TV Series known as “The Weekly”, which helped raise awareness about asbestos in baby powder.
In 2020, Partner Moshe Maimon served as co-trial counsel in a consolidated jury trial for four individuals who suffered from peritoneal mesothelioma from the use of Johnson’s Baby Powder. The jury in the Barden et al. trial awarded the four plaintiffs $750 million.
In 2020, Partner Jerome Block was selected by his colleagues to present the scientific testimony of Dr. William Longo at a Daubert (scientific standards) hearing in federal court as part of the Multi-District Litigation involving J&J talcum powder ovarian cancer cases. J&J had attacked the validity of Dr. Longo’s testing in which he identified talc using transmission electron microscopy (“TEM”). In a widely publicized decision, Judge Freda Wolfson rejected J&J’s legal challenges to Dr. Longo’s TEM findings of asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder. Following the exhibits and testimony presented at the hearing by Partner Jerome Block and Dr. William Longo, the Court held that Dr. Longo used the generally accepted TEM testing method when he identified asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder and the issue of asbestos in J&J’s talc was properly a matter for juries to decide.
Less than 1 month after Judge Wolfson’s opinion rejected J&J’s legal challenges to Dr. Longo’s testing, J&J announced that it would no longer sell the talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada. Instead, J&J will only sell baby powder with corn starch- a raw ingredient that does not contain asbestos.
This is a victory for public health. We are proud that Levy Konigsberg and the firm’s courageous mesothelioma clients, and their family members, were part of achieving this public health victory.
Levy Konigsberg is passionate about fighting for our clients and standing up for important issues affecting public health. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another cancer caused by the use of a talcum powder product, or other product containing asbestos, please contact us for a free consultation. Our dedicated attorneys and staff will be glad to connect with you when you either call the phone number on this page, submit a website form, or have a live chat on this page.