Monday, August 21, 2017

Allen Smith turns powder into gold.

Update: Rueters just reported:

 Johnson & Johnson on Monday was ordered by a California jury to pay $417 million to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based products like Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

Ridgeland attorney Allen Smith, Jr. took his traveling talcum powder show to Los Angeles.   Law360 reported August 16:

 A woman alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused her terminal ovarian cancer attacked the company’s credibility during Wednesday's closing arguments in the California trial, and J&J fired back that its opponent was misinterpreting scientific studies in her bid to win the case.

During the fourth week of the trial in Los Angeles, Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm, representing plaintiff Eva Echeverria, told the jury during his closing argument that J&J’s Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower had caused his client’s cancer, and that the company had refused to place a warning on its products that could have prevented this outcome, despite knowing for decades that talc is dangerous.

“They’re not ever going to warn, unless y’all do something about it,” he said. “While Johnson & Johnson comes in here and plays these legal games, the collateral damage is thousands of women including Ms. Echeverria.”....

Smith pointed to a 1964 internal J&J document that said cornstarch, as opposed to talc, could be absorbed safely in a woman’s vagina, a 1996 newspaper article reporting on condom companies ceasing their use of talc because of health concerns, and a 1997 letter from an industry lobbyist that warned J&J studies were showing a link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer.

He said these, and other documents and publicly available scientific studies, made it clear that J&J knew talc could cause ovarian cancer, but refused, unlike some other talc product makers, to place a warning on its products — and that this behavior warranted the imposition of punitive damages.

Smith did not request a specific damages amount, but told the jury to consider that 1 percent of J&J’s net worth would be $681 million, and that its co-defendant and subsidiary, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, is itself worth $1.5 billion.

Echeverria filed suit with six other women in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July 2016, alleging that for years she used talcum powder mined by Imerys Talc America Inc. and sold by J&J, and that she developed ovarian cancer in 2007. Echeverria is the first plaintiff to head to trial out of the hundreds in the complex litigation consolidating California claims against the companies.

The parties hotly contested a host of motions in the weeks before the trial, with Imerys winning summary judgment on the claims against it, and J&J winning the exclusion of several areas of expert testimony proffered by Echeverria’s experts.

On Wednesday, J&J attorney Bart Williams of Proskauer Rose LLP began his closing argument by telling the jury that every person in the courtroom feels some sympathy for Echeverria — but that justice is more than dispensing sympathy, and that the evidence isn’t on Echeverria’s side.

Williams told the jury that J&J had proven the three things he said it would during his opening statement: that genital talc use doesn’t cause ovarian cancer, that Echeverria’s witnesses had never said it did before getting involved with the litigation, and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had evaluated the issue and determined a warning was not necessary based on the evidence.

Williams emphasized for the jury the difference in statistical studies between an association or correlation between two factors and a causal relationship, noting that the level of statistical relationship between genital talc use and ovarian cancer is weak, with higher levels of ovarian cancer risk being associated with clearly unrelated factors, like drinking whole milk.

Despite this weak statistical association, Echeverria’s experts had cherry-picked data from certain studies in order to try and prove that genital talc use is “more likely than not” to cause ovarian cancer, when the actual studies show no such conclusion..... Rest of article.

Mr. Smith racked up a series of impressive wins in talcum powder lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in St. Louis in the last several years.  The verdicts ranged up up $110 million.  However, a recent Supreme Court ruling threw those verdicts in jeopardy.    Read about the Freeze the Supreme Court threw on his success in this earlier post.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see what you did there...Freeze

Anonymous said...

CheckPlagiarism.org??
If you know Mr. Smith, then this website is for you...

Anonymous said...

He just won a $417 Million payday.

Anonymous said...

Nice verdict. Hoorah for jackpot justice! Couldn't be happier but it's still just a verdict.

Anonymous said...

Where have I heard that name before from?

Anonymous said...

Not sure the science is there yet on cause.

J&J hasn't paid a dime to settle any of these.

They are certainly employing a ton of defense lawyers though.

One thing Allen is getting proficient at is trying lawsuits. That's a scary thought.

Anonymous said...

Anything new on the Freeze saga? This other stuff is borinnnnnnggg.

Anonymous said...

Guys like this are the reason that the products you buy cost so much. J&J will add this to their lineup of products from dish detergent to toothpaste if forced to pay this. Can't believe juries still award such ridiculous amounts.

Anonymous said...

Correlation does not equal causation.

Anonymous said...

Bad things happen when you sue the illuminati. One way or another, they always win. ­čŹ┐

Anonymous said...

Now we know why Hugh Freeze went over the edge and started calling escort service. It was Johnson & Johnson talcum powder.Here's another case for Booster 14.

Anonymous said...

The comments are fascinating.
First, there are those who apparently don't think that products should be safe and if a company knows a hazard might exist, they shouldn't warn the consumer or have to pay a penalty commensurate with the profit if consumers are harmed.
Or else, you misunderstand the "may" word in warnings that do exist when it comes to those things that don't have an immediate cause and effect.
Any of you know what talc is?
By, some commenter's logic, we should all be able to smoke as not all smokers die from having smoked. Indeed, since The Greatest Generation nearly all smoked, it's amazing the " fetal injury, premature birth and low birth rate" warning is still on cigarettes given the current rates.
But, those who think this is about Ole Miss and Freeze and Smith are really more interesting. If Smith had made his money/reputation representing GE, would what y'all believe he did be ok?


Anonymous said...

I thought he changed his name to John Doe

Anonymous said...

@6:56
Thanks for objective analysis.
However, knowing Mr. Smith personally since childhood causes much skepticism of anything he does. Good day!

Anonymous said...

The comments are fascinating.

Your own are too predictable and extremely tired.

Pity the members of your family who have had to put up with a lifetime of your droning expertise.

Anonymous said...

Hey 6:56, I hope your tort lawyer defenses made you feel better. Besides the fact that the only people who get rich on these cases are the lawyers and they aren't out for anybody but themselves, no matter how for the people they claim to be, it seems that there are some vast improvements needed in our legal system to prevent this kind of ridiculous verdict.

If a product truly causes someones death, and not through malice or intent, then we have to consider the value of human life. It is on the one hand invaluable, which is untenable because one person's unfortunate death can't actually consume all of the worlds resources and beyond.

So, short of being invaluable, we are left to ascribe a monetary value to that life and that's a bit of a problem. Maybe take the amount of money they earn annually plus potential retirement investments and multiply it times the number of years in the work force that they lost due to injury/death? Add on a little extra per family member left behind for incidental grief?

Who knows, but the backlash comments here are likely directed at the ambulance chasing lawyers who have simply figured out how to catch bigger ambulances and then want the general public to believe that they are just trying to do good things but this silly tort reform is cutting into their ability to help others...

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the brave and tenacious Waaaaaaahmbulance Chasers. If not for their selfless devotion to duty, we'd never have such life saving warning labels such as "Caution: Hot Beverage" for our coffee cups, "Do not Use While Sleeping" for our hair dryers, or, "Do Not Use as Dental Drill" on our Dremels.

Anonymous said...

Unlike tobacco, from what I've read the science isn't conclusive on this. There is no "yup" consensus among scientists about talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

When you really start to look at most of the things we consume, about 90 percent of them have the potential to cause some type of cancer. Your options are to find an alternative or just deal with reality and accept that the benfit outweighs any potential harm.

If every product that had that potential was "made to pay" to a bunch of lawyers and their clients, then modernity would literally just end. That thought is frightening to me, but it's a lovely thought to people like Mr. Smith.

Anonymous said...

12:57 You must be one of the "little people". Don't even try to wrap your brain around all the good these lawyers are seeking to do it would blow you mind! Just be thankful there are smarter people out there to take care of "little people" like us. Thank you morgaumorga and all of those like you!

Anonymous said...

The only difference between a communist and a tort lawyer is that the communist realizes what he or she is doing.

Anonymous said...

9:01 "the only people who get rich on these cases are the lawyers"

Um. Reading the ordinary English words that KF posted, "a woman" won a judgment for "$417 million."

Even after expenses, fees, whatever, I think that counts as "rich."

Charles Reid said...

Allen R. Smith, Jr., appears to be the trial lawyer to seek if You have a toxic tort, product liability, or negligence of any type if You have been severely hurt or have large damages. He does not have to advertize.

Anonymous said...

Charles Reid. I agree. I know Mr. Smith's SEO expert / web designer. He is the best in the business. That is where all of the advertising is these days. Online.

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