/David v Goliath, Mississippi style

David v Goliath, Mississippi style

A St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55million to a woman who claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s talc products were responsible for her ovarian cancer. This follows a February 24 verdict in St. Louis that Johnson and Johnson should pay $72million to Jacqueline Fox’s family, an Alabama woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer months prior to the trial. These cases are only two of over 1,200 lawsuits against Smith and Johnson. More about Monday’s verdict. Both verdicts contained punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. These were intended to punish the corporation for failing to warn consumers about the dangers associated with talc, and to act as a warning. Johnson & Johnson stated that it will appeal the verdicts. Smith, 45, stated that “the ball is in their favor.” He said this from his small office where he works as The Smith Law Firm. The Mississippi College Law School graduate said that he would move on to the next case, unless they agree to settle. From July to September, three more cases related to his case are being docketed. Carol Goodrich, a J&J spokesperson, stated in an email that after the February verdict, she had expressed disappointment with the result of the trial. “We sympathize fully with the family of the plaintiff, but we firmly believe that cosmetic talc’s safety is supported by decades worth of scientific evidence.” Smith points out that the jury verdict took just four hours, after a three week trial. Monday’s verdict was reached after 10 hours of deliberation. Krista Smith was the jury foreman in February’s case. She called the company’s internal documents “decisive.” After the decision, she stated that all they had to do was add a warning label. Allen Smith stated that he presented Johnson & Johnson’s documents from years ago to show jurors that Johnson & Johnson knew that its talc-based products (such as baby powder or the “Shower To Shower” feminine hygiene brand) could cause legal problems. In similar products, cornstarch is often used as an absordent to talc. Johnson & Johnson launched a baby powder made with constarch in 1970s. However, it continues to sell products that contain talc which it claims is safe. Smith, a Jackson native insists Johnson & Johnson knew talc could cause cancer because the company that mines it puts warning labels on products it ships to Johnson & Johnson. Smith graduated from the University of Mississippi in English and had taken many pre-med classes. Smith, the son of a doctor, had taken the medical school entrance exam once and planned on doing so again. Smith said that he wasn’t certain what he wanted to do with his life. But he remembered how his dad had done it. “So, I thought that I would get a degree in law. It was that first year that I realized it was what I wanted to be. He says he “fell into” product liability cases, while he was a Mississippi Gulf Coast baby lawyer dealing with workers who were injured by silica, a basic ingredient of soil. U.S. Occupation & Health Agency states that crystalline silica particles can enter the lungs of people when they cut, drill, or otherwise modify objects. This can lead to severe health problems, and even fatal lung conditions called silicosis. A framed verdict from the Mississippi jury that awarded damages to a client who sustained silica-caused injury is displayed in Smith’s waiting room. Smith said that his fascination with talc cases was a natural progression. His father, Dr. Robert A. Smith (a plastic surgeon) gave Smith the first inkling of his concern about talc. He is a patent holder on numerous bio-materials patents. Smith claims that his father began receiving calls from cosmetics companies in the 2000s. They asked about his products and told Smith they needed to reformulate talc-based makeup. Smith said that he was told about the inquiry. Smith began to follow discussions on talc, particularly its use in the genital region. To discuss the implications, he met with Harvard experts and joined some women’s ovarian cancer support groups to find out more. He came across a 2009 post on a cancer-website about a woman with ovarian cancer. It also included information about her daily genital area and talc usage. Smith continued, “I emailed the woman and stated that I had been following this issue for years… and told them I have investigated.” “Lo and behold! She had a great case. Tests showed that she had talc within her genital tissue as an contributing cause of her cancer. That was the first case. They won it, but no damages were awarded. Smith started to receive more inquiries. Smith knew that he could not handle all of these cases on his own. He reached out to Ted Meadows, a fellow attorney who had written about his South Dakota verdict. Ted Meadows is part of the well-known Montgomery personal injury firm Beasley Allen. Meadows and he teamed up to carry the 1,200 cases from St. Louis to New Jersey. They are taking them one by one.