By Jef Feeley for Bloomberg
October 18, 2019, 4:00 AM CDT
Mark Lanier used a block of cheese and a hay bale as props in a St. Louis courtroom last year to make his case that Johnson & Johnson baby powder causes cancer. It worked. Jurors ordered J&J to pay $4.7 billion in damages.
The verdict was the third multibillion-dollar award for Lanier, the Texas-based lawyer now leading the attack for two Ohio counties against a group of drug companies, including McKesson Corp. and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Inc., in the first federal trial of more than 2,000 state and local government lawsuits over the U.S. opioid epidemic. Opening arguments start Monday.
“[Mark Lanier’s] the best plaintiffs’ lawyer in the U.S. right now and maybe in the whole world,” Carl Tobias said. “He’s got a string of big-dollar victories over the years that make companies start thinking settlement even before the case is tried.”
“I would think seeing a lawyer of his caliber on the other side of the courtroom should give them pause,” Richard Ausness said. “He’s big league.”