In recent years, people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and ovarian cancer have come forward to seek justice against consumer brand Johnson & Johnson’s accusing the company’s talc-based products of causing their asbestos-related diseases. Lawsuits seeking compensation have largely been successful, and the company has decided not to continue their sales of the product in North America. Recently, a New Jersey appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision that had granted the company summary judgement. That case had been filed by two victims of ovarian cancer, who will now be able to move forward with their claims.
Court of Appeals Criticizes Lower Court Judge in Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Case
The reversal of the lower court’s decision granted plaintiffs Brandi (and her husband Joel) Carl and Diana (and her husband Gilbert) Balderrama the ability to return to court and seek compensation from Johnson & Johnson and other defendants. Both women had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder. Both blamed the company for failing to warn of the presence of asbestos, the same mineral that causes malignant mesothelioma.
The trial court in the case granted the company’s request to exclude the opinions of two experts on causation, and on that basis granted their motions for summary judgment. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division reversed that lower court decision, saying that the trial judge’s conclusions “went to the merits of their opinions and his disagreement with them rather than their methodology and the soundness of their data.”
Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos Cases Rely on Testimony of Expert Witnesses
In this ovarian cancer case and, similarly, in lawsuits filed by malignant mesothelioma victims, the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses is essential. Each side presents its own witnesses and supporting evidence that is expected to be “based on sound methodology applied to data upon which experts in their field may reasonably rely.” In the women’s case, the appellate judges ruled that the trial judge had accepted the defense experts’ opinion that talc does not cause cancer, despite that being beyond his role at the hearing.
In their decision they wrote, “His task was to assess the soundness of the methodology of plaintiff’s experts and the soundness of the ‘underlying data and information.’ Instead, he chose between plaintiffs’ and defendants’ experts based on his assessment of the credibility of their opinions.” They conclude that the judge’s suppression of the plaintiffs’ witnesses’ testimony was “an abuse of discretion.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you need access to information and resources. The Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help you access both. Contact them today at 1-800-692-8608.