With hung jury, second straight talcum case against Johnson & Johnson ends in mistrial

After a costly setback in St. Louis regarding Johnson & Johnson’s talcum defense, two straight cases involving the storied baby powder product have ended in a mistrial. 

In the case of retired computer salesman Kirk Von Salzen, jurors ended with a tally of 8-4 in favor of the plaintiff, one short of the number needed for a finding against J&J, Bloomberg reported. The result follows another mistrial late last month, also in California. Von Salzen and his attorney argued J&J’s talc contains asbestos that caused his disease, a form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. 

Afterward, Von Salzen’s attorney told Bloomberg he’s “satisfied” that eight jurors ruled against J&J. A representative for the drugmaker said J&J is “grateful to the court and jury for their time and careful consideration of the facts in this case.”

“This is the second mistrial as a result of a hung jury in two weeks, which we believe reflects the careful consideration by these juries of the real science in these cases,” she said in a statement. The company looks forward to a new trial, she added.

Both mistrials followed J&J’s costly defeat this summer in Missouri, where jurors ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion after hearing evidence in a trial that consolidated the ovarian cancer claims of 22 women. The company pledged to appeal.  

RELATED: High-stakes talc trial ends in whopping $4.7B verdict for Johnson & Johnson 

Before that trial, J&J notched a series of victories and losses in defense of the powder product. The company successfully overturned $544 million worth of verdicts in appeals. Speaking after the multibillion-dollar defeat, a J&J representative said the "multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed." 

Even J&J CEO Alex Gorsky took a chance to address the huge verdict on a July conference call. He said the company’s Baby Powder is a “trusted product” that J&J has sold for more than a century. J&J is “deeply disappointed” in the verdict, Gorsky said.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson scores third appeals win—this one for $55M—in talc powder litigation 

“We remain confident that our products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and we intend to pursue all available appellate remedies,” the helmsman told analysts on the call.

Plaintiffs and their attorneys argue otherwise. The company faced about 10,600 talc cases claiming harm from the product as of a J&J filing in August.