Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year award for the firm’s work on litigation related to Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and its link to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. This is quite an honor and one that is greatly appreciated. Nominees from our firm are Ted G. Meadows, David P. Dearing, Danielle Ward Mason, Brittany Scott and this writer, along with R. Allen Smith, Jr., from Ridgeland, Miss.; and James G. Onder, Stephanie Rados, Michael J. Quillin and W. Wylie Blair of Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson, LLC, a St. Louis firm; and Russ Abney of Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough in Atlanta, Ga. The trial team has led the ongoing litigation against Johnson & Johnson, and Imerys Talc America, Inc.
On May 2, a jury in St. Louis found Johnson & Johnson liable for ovarian cancer linked to genital use of its talcum powder products. The jurors awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million, which included $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Earlier, in February, a separate jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, holding Johnson & Johnson liable for her ovarian cancer related death. In that verdict, $62 million was punitive damages. The purpose of awarding punitive damages is to punish a company for wrongdoing and to compel it to change its actions.
This is the second time lawyers from Beasley Allen have been nominated for this award. The trial team that worked on Toyota litigation related to sudden unintended acceleration of vehicles were nominated for the 2014 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. The trial team in that litigation from our firm included J. Cole Portis, R. Graham Esdale, and Benjamin E. Baker, and this writer; Larry Tawwater of The Tawwater Law Firm in Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Paul Martin of Martin Jean Jackson in Ponca City, Okla. This litigation team led the charge against Toyota on behalf of the Bookout and Schwarz families. Our case in Oklahoma City was the first suit to go to trial against Toyota tying sudden unintended acceleration to electronic throttle control problems. It was the case that caused Toyota to start settling cases in the multidistrict litigation (MDL), and ultimately winding up the litigation.
Public Justice pursues high impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability, and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses. Public Justice presents its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to the lawyers who made the greatest contribution to the public interest within the past year by trying or settling a precedent-setting, socially significant case. The finalists will be honored and the award presented at the annual Public Justice gala at the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles on July 24, 2016. A full list of the nominees and more information can be found at www.publicjustice.net. We are honored and grateful to be among this group of good lawyers.