Rosalino “Louie” Reyes was just 53 years old when doctors found malignant mesothelioma in his stomach and chest, a lethal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Reyes had two significant exposures to asbestos in his life—from brake dust and talc. He wanted justice. On Oct. 27, Reyes’ 54th birthday, his trial against consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson and others began. But, days later, his health declined sharply. He was moved into hospice over the weekend and died.

“For reasons that are somewhat complicated to explain, I don’t believe we can just continue this trial. A case after someone has passed away is different from a case where the plaintiff is alive,” Judge Stephen Kaus told the virtual jury Tuesday. “But, in any event, we can’t go on with Mr. Reyes unable to communicate with his attorney,” the judge added before declaring a mistrial.

Reyes’ lawsuit claimed that Johnson’s Baby Powder was contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly denied its iconic talcum powder is dangerous despite documents that show the company knew for decades its talc could become contaminated with asbestos. In October 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled thousands of bottles of its baby powder after testing revealed it contained asbestos fibers.

Reyes’ lawsuit also named Safeway, CVS-owned Longs Drugs, Lucky Stores, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and Bendix Corporation. The case could be tried again at a later date.

Reyes’ trial is believed to be the first talc trial to be held virtually, and it appears to have posed some challenges. Technical problems may have prevented some from watching part of the opening arguments. Judge Kaus told jurors that, “Everybody has to hear the whole trial, so this is a problem,” adding he would provide them with a Chromebook or Wi-Fi hotspot if needed.

Also on Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to review a $2.1 billion jury verdict involving 22 women who blamed the genital use of Johnson’s Baby Powder for causing their ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson said it intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The company faces nearly 22,000 lawsuits over claims its talcum powder causes cancer.

Mesothelioma litigation

Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.

Talc-ovarian cancer lawyers

Beasley Allen lawyers continue to investigate new cases involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. For additional information on these cases, contact Ted Meadows, Leigh O’Dell or Brittany Scott.

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