Client Johnson & Johnson Wins Defense Verdict in Major Product Liability Trial


Providing a resounding win for an Orrick-led trial team, a Los Angeles jury today handed down a complete defense verdict for Johnson & Johnson in the nation’s first trial involving claims that asbestos in the company’s baby powder caused mesothelioma. The jury rejected those claims at the conclusion of a trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that began on Oct. 19.

Orrick partner Morty Dubin was lead counsel for J&J’s defense team, which also included Sharla Frost of Tucker and Ellis and Alex Calfo of King & Spalding. The jury also returned a defense verdict for Imerys Talc America, a talc supplier. The case was Herford v. Johnson & Johnson.

J &J faces numerous similar asbestos-related cases around the country, in addition to litigation alleging its talcum powder products caused ovarian cancer. J&J has recently won several important rulings backing its position in the ovarian cancer cases.

“We are pleased with today’s verdict,” J&J said in a statement. “Johnson’s baby powder has been around since 1894 and it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. We will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s baby powder in future trials.”

Morty played a key role in the Los Angeles trial, providing closing arguments that cast doubt on the plaintiff’s evidence and science. Orrick trial teams are preparing to represent J&J in upcoming trials, including one next month in Los Angeles.

The outcome was ranked #1 on the Courtroom View Network’s “Top 10 Most Impressive Defense Verdicts of 2017.” CVN called the win “impressive” because it involved the first trial in the nation raising the asbestos-related claims against J&J. “A clean defense verdict right out of the gates is a significant first salvo,” the network said.

In addition to Morty, the trial team in the Herford case included Kevin Hynes, Anne Malik, Michelle O’Meara, Allegra Noonan and Olivia Clements.