A California appellate panel appeared of Johnson & Johnson’s win in an asbestos-talc case, questioning the trial judge’s decision to preclude plaintiffs’ experts’ reliance on third-party testing finding asbestos in consumer talc and pressing J&J to explain its “magical” process for filtering out asbestos particles.
All three judges on the panel appeared leery of J&J’s summary judgment win in a lawsuit brought by a now-deceased man and his family claiming his lifetime use of Johnson’s Baby Powder exposed him to harmful levels of asbestos.
The panel pushed back against J&J’s assertion that there was no triable issue of fact and appeared to agree with the plaintiffs’ argument that the trial judge wrongly concluded that the material underlying plaintiffs’ expert’s analysis was based on case-specific hearsay.
The Strobels sued J&J in California state court in 2019, making claims that included negligence, product liability and fraud. The trial court judge granted J&J summary judgment in January 2020, and the Strobel family appealed the ruling shortly thereafter.
Purcell, who represents Douglas Strobel’s family, told the panel that J&J’s assertion that its talc products are asbestos-free is “baloney.” He said that asbestos fibers are smaller and thinner than the wavelength of light and that J&J has been improperly testing its talc and calling it asbestos-free, when it’s not.
Purcell urged the judges to reverse J&J’s win, saying there was a triable issue of fact given that J&J’s expert found there to be no asbestos in ore, while plaintiffs’ expert says asbestos is present in the ore and in the final product.