Mesothelioma victims are often torn about whether to pursue legal action against the companies responsible for their illness: the idea of battling giant asbestos companies can be intimidating. But those affected by asbestos can take heart from what happened this week in a New Jersey courtroom. Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Anna C. Viscomi struck a Johnson & Johnson attorney’s entire closing argument after she had repeatedly suggested that four mesothelioma victims’ claims were based on “lawsuit fiction.” The judge went on to tell the attorney to stop the outbursts, and indicated that “to leave in only the appropriate comments on the record would be impossible.”
New Jersey case is one of thousands filed against Johnson & Johnson
The lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson was brought by four mesothelioma victims — 41-year-old D’Angela McNeill-George, 46-year-old Will Ronning, 65-year-old Douglas Barden and 57-year-old David Etheridge — who all claim that the consumer giant was aware that their popular talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos, but chose to hide it rather than eliminate it. They blame the company for their fatal illness, as have thousands of people diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma who have lawsuits pending.
Though Johnson & Johnson continues to argue against being held responsible for consumers’ mesothelioma and ovarian cancer diagnoses, there have been several verdicts against them, and the company has been ordered to pay billions of dollars in compensation to victims.
Attorney’s arguments evoke accusations of unprofessional conduct
In response to Johnson & Johnson’s attorney suggesting that the mesothelioma victims had “created” evidence to back their claims, the victims’ attorney accused her of having violated professional conduct rules, and the judge apparently agreed, striking the argument in its entirety and saying,“What could have been a good closing statement commenting on the evidence was replete with conduct this court has already warned you about.”
The Johnson & Johnson attorney argued that the victims mesothelioma was “spontaneous” rather than caused by exposure to asbestos, a suggestion that the victims’ attorney pointed out was not based on science. He went on to say that the company had specifically avoided using the word “asbestos” in its internal documents, replacing it with less inflammatory terms, and that calling their disease spontaneous “steals from them.” He went on to say, “They will all die early. They know the truth of this disease, and it could have been prevented.”
Mesothelioma is a challenging condition cause by exposure to asbestos, and in almost every case, that exposure could have been avoided if companies had made protecting people a priority. For information on the resources available to victims of asbestos and their family, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.