After Mesothelioma Widow Wins Appeal, Baby Powder Case Can Go to Trial
Before Douglas Strobel died of malignant mesothelioma in 2020, he and his wife Jo Ann were in the midst of a legal battle against Johnson & Johnson. They had charged the company with negligence and fraud, accusing them of having known that the talc in their baby powder product was contaminated with asbestos, which they said caused Douglas’ illness over 60 year of use and exposure. Their original lawsuit seeking compensation was dismissed by the trial court, which granted the company summary judgment based on what they called hearsay evidence provided by the family’s expert witness. The Strobels appealed that decision, and though Douglas has since died, the Court of Appeals of California agreed with them and overturned the original decision. Mrs. Strobel will continue to pursue her claim for loss of consortium.
Mesothelioma Victim Dies At 68 Years Old
Mr. Strobel was just 67 years old when he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and he died within a year. Upon learning that the disease was caused by exposure to asbestos, he had quickly determined that his only possible source of exposure was the baby powder that he had used for his entire life. He provided testimony that his mother had regularly used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder when diapering him, and that he continued to use it throughout his life, from dumping it in his shoes after little league practice as a child to applying it to his feet two to three times a week until 2014. It was estimated that over six decades he had used at least 338 containers of the product.
In addition to providing evidence of extensive use of the baby powder product, the mesothelioma victim presented expert witnesses who testified about the presence of asbestos in the product over the years. Lacking bottles of the actual product that Mr. Strobel had used, these experts relied upon testing conducted by scientists in previous cases. Johnson & Johnson’s attorneys called this hearsay evidence and the trial judge agreed, and dismissed the case.
Appeals Court Overrules Lower Court Decision in Mesothelioma Case
In making its decision, the appeals court noted that “it seems fair to draw the inference that asbestos was present in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder throughout the entire exposure period,” and that drawing the opposite inference based on the absence of a positive asbestos test in archival samples postdating the mesothelioma victim’s birth would violate the fundamental rule of weighing evidence liberally for the nonmoving party. The case will move forward for a jury to weigh the evidence provided by both parties.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, finding the source of exposure is the first step to justice. For help in understanding your options, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.FREE Mesothelioma Packet