Two Orrick Trial Wins Named Top Defense Verdicts by the Daily Journal


Two Orrick trial wins on behalf of clients Johnson & Johnson and SpaceX were named among the Top Defense Verdicts of 2017 by the Daily Journal. The annual list recognizes defense victories in California that had a major impact on individuals, companies, industries and society, highlighting trial attorneys for demonstrating exceptional courtroom skills.

In the Johnson & Johnson case, a trial team led by Orrick partner Morty Dubin and including Sharla Frost of Tucker and Ellis and Alex Calfo of King & Spalding won a complete defense verdict in the nation’s first trial involving claims that asbestos in the company’s baby powder caused mesothelioma. Morty played a key role in the Los Angeles trial, providing closing arguments that cast doubt on the plaintiff’s evidence and science. As he told the Daily Journal, “The plaintiffs said the case was about trust and a breach by J&J, but the real question was which scientific evidence was more trustworthy."

In the SpaceX case, an Orrick trial team led by partner Lynne Hermle won a complete defense verdict in a $6 million whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former employee. The case involved a former SpaceX technician who claimed he was fired in retaliation for allegedly telling his bosses that SpaceX did not follow test protocols and falsified results. After a two-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that the Daily Journal described as a “battle of the titans,” the jury deliberated less than 90 minutes before rejecting the lawsuit and returning a defense verdict.

In addition to Lynne, the trial team included partner Julia Riechert. This was the second time in eight months that Lynne and Julia were able to secure a defense verdict at trial for SpaceX. The previous case, in which the Orrick team persuaded the jury to reject all allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against SpaceX, was named one of the Daily Journal’s Top Defense Verdicts of 2016.