South Carolina Trial Against Johnson & Johnson for Baby Powder Related Mesothelioma Ends in Mistrial

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C.  has represented victims of asbestos exposure and their estates for over 30 years. Asbestos causes a number of serious and often fatal diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. In recent trials, plaintiffs have argued that they or a loved one developed mesothelioma after using products that contain talcum powder because the talc was contaminated with asbestos.

A recent trial against Johnson & Johnson (J & J) involving claims that its baby powder caused a woman to develop mesothelioma ended in a mistrial when the jury could not agree on whether J&J was liable for the woman’s illness and death. The lawsuit was brought by Antoine Bostic, who alleged that his 30 year old wife and law partner developed and died from pericardial mesothelioma  (a cancer in the membrane surrounding the heart) after using J&J’s baby powder from the time she was an infant. As an adult, she would put baby powder in her shoes, especially during the summer when it was hot.

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Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

Imerys Talc America, which supplied talc to J&J, and Rite Aid, which sold J&J’s baby powder to the decedent, Bertila Boyd-Bostic, were also named as defendants. After deliberating for about two hours, the jury returned a unanimous finding that Rite Aid was not at fault, but was unable to reach an agreement concerning the other two defendants. In South Carolina, the jury’s verdict must be unanimous. The Court sent the 12 person jury back to the jury room for further deliberations, but after another three hours, a jury representative informed the court that they were unable to reach consensus, and had agreed to disagree. The court then declared a mistrial on May 25, 2018.  The attorneys for the Bostic  family say that they will retry the case as soon as possible.

This is allegedly the first mesothelioma trial where the retail chain that sold baby powder was named as a defendant. At trial, Rite Aid’s attorney argued that the drug chain should not be held liable because J&J’s baby powder had never been banned or recalled. 

During trial, J&J’s attorney took the position that cosmetic talc does not cause mesothelioma. He also argued that mesothelioma is not related to asbestos exposure in women the same way that it is in men. Supposedly 60 to 90% of the mesotheliomas in women are spontaneous, or “idiopathic,” meaning that there is no obvious cause for the disease.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by exposure to asbestos, contact James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. for a free initial consultation. We can be reached at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) or through our website, www.jfhumphreys.com.

Sources

Christie Smythe and Jef Feeley, Bloomberg, “No Verdict Reached in J&J Baby Powder Case,” May 25, 2018, https://www.bloomber.com/news/articles/2018-05-25/j-j-jury-fails-to-reach-verdict-in-s-c

Tina Bellon, New York (Reuters), “U.S. Jury Fails to Reach Verdict in Latest J&J Talc Trial,” May 25, 2018,  https://www. reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-cancer-lawsuit/us-jury-fails-to-reach…

Elaine Silvestri, “Talcum Powder Cancer Trial Underway in S.C.,” May 24, 2018, https://www.drugwatch.com/news/2018/05/17/talcum-powder-cancer-trial-underway-in-sc/

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