November 01, 2018
Weil was profiled in Law360’s “How They Won It” series for securing a complete defense jury verdict for Johnson & Johnson in the mass tort talc litigation. Following four weeks of trial in New Jersey state court, the jury returned a unanimous, 7-0, verdict after deliberating for less than 30 minutes.
The plaintiff in this case alleged that exposure to asbestos in J&J’s baby powder contributed to her developing mesothelioma. This lawsuit is one of many cases currently pending in courts around the United States, in which plaintiffs allege that the use of talcum powder caused mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. The jury found that the plaintiff was not exposed to asbestos in J&J’s baby powder.
The Weil team was led by partners Diane Sullivan and Allison Brown, and they are quoted at length in the article, which highlights their strategy of urging the jury to use common sense, explaining that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other third parties — including scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University — have confirmed that the baby powder did not contain asbestos. Ms. Brown explained, “There is no epidemiological study that shows an increase in [mesothelioma] in the miners and millers of cosmetic talc, and there’s no government authority that says cosmetic talc increases the risk, and I think those two facts really resonated with some smart, perceptive jurors who paid a lot of attention.”
The article also highlights Ms. Brown’s proficiency in cross-examining a plaintiffs’ expert who had opined the baby powder caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. Ms. Brown was able to show that the expert issued the finding before receiving the results of testing done on the product by another plaintiffs’ expert. “The fact that he issued the opinion without the testing … was consistent with what we had been arguing from the beginning that this was a concocted litigation,” Ms. Sullivan said.
The close relationship of Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Brown is also emphasized throughout the article, with Ms. Sullivan calling Ms. Brown “one of the best young trial lawyers in the country.” In addition, Ms. Brown explained that she considers Ms. Sullivan a mentor and a friend, noting that “everything I know about how to be a trial lawyer, I know from Diane.”