Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm, a firm with offices in Texas and New York, led a trial team that won a monumental jury award in St. Louis, Missouri that has massive implications for similar class actions. Lanier and his team, which included members of the Holland Law Firm of St. Louis, convinced the jury last week that Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos-laden talcum powder products caused ovarian cancer in 22 women. The monumental award totaled $4.69 billion — $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages against the company.
Mark Lanier, lead trial counsel for the women and their families, introduced evidence from scientific experts to explain how asbestos, a well-known carcinogen, is intermingled with the mineral talc. Talc is the primary ingredient in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.
Medical experts testified that microscopic asbestos fibers enter the body when talcum powder is inhaled or applied to the genital area. Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of many of the women.
“For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products,” said Mr. Lanier. “We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer. The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease. J&J sells the same powders in a marvelously safe corn starch variety. If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning.”
Many of the women took the stand at trial to talk about their use of the products and how ovarian cancer affected their quality of life. Six of the plaintiffs have died and were represented at trial by husbands and family members.
In addition to Lanier, the trial team includes attorneys Lee Cirsch, Rachel Lanier, Dr. Robert Leone, Michael Akselrud, and Monica Cooper of the Lanier Law Firm. Co-counsel included Eric D. Holland of the Holland Law Firm.
Leaders In The Law reported on another case where Lanier took on Johnson & Johnson. In November 2017, his firm convinced a federal jury in Texas to side with six plaintiffs who suffered serious medical complications caused by the defective metal-on-metal hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. That jury awarded $247 million to the plaintiffs.