Court Reinstates San Francisco Widow’s Mesothelioma Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson

Douglas Strobel and his wife Jo Ann filed suit against Johnson & Johnson shortly after he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in February of 2019. Though the judge who first heard his case had dismissed the couple’s lawsuit, an appeals court has reinstated it. Mr. Strobel died in April of 2020, but his widow will be able to pursue justice on his behalf.

Asbestos in Talcum Powder Blamed for Mesothelioma

When Mr. Strobel was first diagnosed with mesothelioma, he had no idea how he could have gotten the disease. He had no known exposure to asbestos, the carcinogenic mineral that causes the rare and deadly form of cancer. But when he was asked whether he had ever used talcum powder he quickly learned that the Johnson & Johnson products he had used for most of his life were likely contaminated with the toxic material.  

Prior to his death, Mr. Strobel testified that he had used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for approximately sixty years, starting when his mother began putting it in his diaper in 1951. He recounted putting it in his athletic shoes when he was a Little League baseball player, and said he continued using it through 2014. Despite this, the judge that initially heard his case dismissed his lawsuit, agreeing with Johnson & Johnson that there was no firsthand evidence that the talcum powder that he had used over the years was contaminated.

Appeals Court Overturns Initial Mesothelioma Decision

Mr. Strobel succumbed to his mesothelioma after Superior Court Judge Wendy Getty had dismissed the lawsuit, but his widow appealed her decision and the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco agreed in a 3-0 ruling with her assertion that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the case. Justice Jon Streeter pointed to government reports that confirmed that asbestos has been found in talcum products, and indicated that just because the company had claimed its final product had been screened for asbestos did not mean that jurors had to accept their assertion, and particularly not when the evidence showed “long-term use of a talcum powder product alleged to contain asbestos by a mesothelioma sufferer who was not exposed to any other known source of asbestos.”

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease and you need help determining the source of your exposure, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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