CALIFORNIA – On December 16, 2019, after a day-and-a-half of deliberations following a trial that had begun in October, a Los Angeles, California jury rendered a defense verdict in favor of defendant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), finding that it was not liable for the plaintiff, Pui “Amy” Fong’s mesothelioma. Fong, a mother of two who immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in 1984 at the age of 13, alleged that she had been exposed to asbestos from using J&J baby powder since 1971.
J&J’s counsel was successful in arguing against the plaintiff’s microscopy expert, William Longo, who testified that he found asbestos in J&J baby powder, with prior transcripts in which Longo conceded that prior testing from his lab actually found no asbestos in cosmetic talc. J&J further filed a motion to preclude a portion of Longo’s testimony regarding the testing of J&J talc sourced from China, which was granted. Counsel for J&J additionally argued to the jury that the plaintiff’s other experts had never before opined that talc contained asbestos and caused mesothelioma before being retained by the plaintiffs’ bar.
Finally, J&J presented the jury with evidence that Fong’s mesothelioma could have been caused by her childhood in Hong Kong, where asbestos-containing building materials were used regularly, and never banned.