LOS ANGELES – Attorneys for Amy Fong had the woman recount the hell of undergoing treatments for mesothelioma on Wednesday and showed a jury family photos to demonstrate what she could lose in a trial over allegations asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused the disease.
“I want to be with my family,” Fong said, fighting back tears, describing her future outlook. “I take it day by day, step by step.”
Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson appeared to be attempting to link Fong’s disease to a family history of cancer, but their line of questioning was ended after a sidebar = which was closed to the jury.
The trial in the Los Angeles Superior Court is being streamed live courtesy of Courtroom View Network.
Fong, 48, a resident of Pasadena, sued Johnson & Johnson and its talc powder supplier Imerys Talc America claiming she developed mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lungs, as a result of breathing in asbestos-contaminated baby powder over a long period of time.
Fong’s attorneys allege talc powder mined in Korea and inhaled by Fong in Hong Kong where she lived during the 1970s is the cause of her disease.
Johnson & Johnson attorneys are attempting to demonstrate the woman's mesothelioma could have been contracted from asbestos in fumes inhaled from an incinerator at a landfill near her home in Hong Kong.
Joseph Satterley, Fong’s attorney, asked the woman if she had lived near any toxic sites in Hong Kong during the 1970s.
“Did you ever work in a ship-yard?” he asked.
“No,” Fong replied.
“Near an incinerator?”
“A construction site?”
“Did you think the (baby powder) dust could be dangerous?”
“If you had been warned it was dangerous, would you have used it?”
Fong said she had been suffering with coughing, shortness of breath and loss of weight. A chest X-ray was performed and fluid was found in the right lung. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.
“Did you know what it (mesothelioma) was prior to diagnosis?” Satterley asked.
“No,” Fong said.
Doctors told her there was no cure.
Fong underwent chemotherapy treatments, surgery and radiology. She said the treatments left her exhausted, prone to vomiting and loss of appetite.
Photos were displayed of Fong with family members, including two young daughters, and her husband, Thai Wong.
“My husband told my daughters I had cancer,” Fong said. “They were crying and shaking. After that I wasn’t able to do much for them, like in school.”
She added that her husband supported her, altering his busy schedule as a surgeon and commuting long distances to be with her during the treatments, but the experience had left him exhausted emotionally as well as physically.
Kimberly Branscome, an attorney for Johnson & Johnson, on cross-examination asked Fong if she and her family had used one bottle of baby powder every few months in Hong Kong.
“I think so,” Fong said.
“No medical professional has told you your mesothelioma was caused by baby powder?” Branscome asked.
Branscome asked Fong if her relatives had had cancer, but the sidebar was requested and the line of questioning ended by Superior Court Judge David Cunningham.