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Just weeks after a California jury handed down a substantial $29 million plaintiff’s verdict, Johnson & Johnson has settled three other talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits with victims and families. Those and other lawsuits against the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant claim that plaintiffs developed serious health conditions, including mesothelioma and other cancers, due to years of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

The most recent case was settled in Oklahoma, just hours after an Oklahoma City-jury began its deliberations into whether or not Johnson & Johnson’s Baby powder was a contributing factor in a 77-year-old victim’s development of peritoneal mesothelioma. On the same day, Johnson & Johnson settled another talcum powder cancer lawsuit in the middle of a trial brought by a 36-year-old who claimed she too developed mesothelioma from years of using talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company.

The third settlement involved a New York asbestos cancer lawsuit slated to begin this month. The settlements are a rare occurrence in the history of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder lawsuit litigation as the company has typically chosen to litigate these types of cases until the end, rather than negotiate with plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 13,000 additional asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country accusing the company of causing various types of cancer.

After a year that saw juries hand down a number of substantial plaintiffs verdicts in asbestos cancer lawsuits, pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson and its supplier Imerys Talc USA are slated to see their highest number of such cases over the next 12 months. Imerys has already collapsed and filed for bankruptcy protection under the mounting legal and financial trouble.  After a St. Louis jury handed down a $4.69 billion verdict to 22 female plaintiffs in 2019, this year could pose even more legal and financial trouble for the companies, with the group scheduled to defendant their actions in front of three times as many juries than the previous year.

Four trials scheduled in 2019 will take place in the same Missouri state court where jurors handed down their multi-billion dollar verdict and several more will take place in venues considered to be friendly to plaintiffs. One trial in August has 38 plaintiffs, setting the stage for potentially an even larger verdict than before. Since cases began going to trial in 2016, juries in California, New Jersey, and Missouri have handed down more than $5 billion in compensation to asbestos exposure victims.

An estimated 12,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits remain outstanding and some legal experts believe it could cost Johnson & Johnson as much as $20 billion to settle all the claims and avoid any further trials. A recent Reuters report detailed allegations that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, but did nothing to warn consumers about the risks, even going as far as to provide misleading information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling in a mesothelioma lawsuit in which it held that companies may be held liable when third party components necessary for a product’s operation cause injury.  The case was originally brought by two Navy veterans and their wives against Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and four other manufacturers of equipment used on Navy ships that required asbestos parts to function as intended.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs developed their illnesses due to years of asbestos exposure aboard Navy ships. The victims blamed the exposure on components manufactured by third parties designed to fit equipment made by the defendants. The plaintiffs argued that since the defendants knew their equipment required products manufactured with asbestos by third parties, they should have provided warnings and are therefore liable for the exposure.

In their defense, Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and the other defendants relied on what is known as a “bare metal” defense, arguing that they delivered their products to the Navy without any asbestos and did not manufacture the carcinogenic parts. However, the Supreme Court did not accept the defendants’ arguments, instead relying on established maritime law that extends special protections to Navy veterans.

A collection of environmental groups recently filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over claims the agency’s reporting practices essentially create loopholes that allow companies to avoid acknowledging asbestos may be present in their products. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and four other groups filed their claim in U.S. District Court for the District of San Francisco, challenging the agency’s decision to allow exemptions to asbestos reporting rules.

In addition to challenging asbestos reporting rules, the plaintiffs also criticized the EPA’s denial of a petition to impose stricter reporting requirements on companies that handle asbestos, essentially leaving the public in the dark about potential dangers of exposure. Despite federal regulators designating asbestos as a known carcinogen with no safe level exposure since the 1970s, there is still no outright ban on asbestos due to an Appeals Court ruling in the early 1990s.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim the lack of reliable data makes it especially difficult for the EPA to determine where asbestos is manufactured, processed, or imported in the United States which flies in the face of the agency’s duty to perform risk assessments for the mineral. In June 2017, the EPA released a scoping document identifying products that may contain asbestos but that document provides little if any information on the level of asbestos present, quantities imported, or nation of origin, according to the lawsuit.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson may be the sole defendant in an estimated 12,700 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits after its main talc supplier recently filed for bankruptcy under the weight of thousands of such cases across the country. Imerys Talc USA, which had supplied Johnson & Johnson with talc sourced from overseas mines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware federal court and was subsequently released as a defendant from a nearly two-month trial in California state court.

“After carefully evaluating all possible options, we determined pursuing Chapter 11 protection is the best course of action to address our historic talc-related liabilities and position the companies for continued growth,” Imerys Talc America President Giorgio La Motta said in a statement. Under the law, companies who file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy are protected from litigation, a move that allows the insolvent company to reorganize and determine the best way to settle claims with creditors.

Legal experts have speculated that after juries handed down multi-billion dollar verdicts in 2018, Imerys Talc USA essentially saw the writing on the wall and chose to insulate itself from potentially billions more in verdicts. In just a handful of trials last year, juries handed down a combined excess of $5 billion in plaintiffs verdicts, including a $4.7 billion award from a Missouri state court to 22 plaintiffs or their estates who claimed to have suffered serious health complications as a result of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.

A State of New York Appeals Court recently handed down an important ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that will allow the injured plaintiff to proceed with his claim and possibly recover compensation for the injuries he suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence. In its split decision, the appeals court allowed a lawsuit by a former merchant marine can not be thrown out based on a settlement he agreed to in the 1990s that was intended to exempt the employer from all future claims from the employee.

The lawsuit was originally brought against Chevron in in 2014 by a former employee after he developed mesothelioma, which the complaint alleged was induced by the victim’s exposure to asbestos while he served as a seaman in the Merchant Marine for nearly four decades. The plaintiff subsequently passed away from complications with the disease in 2015 but the victim’s wife took over as the plaintiff in the case.

Chevron had moved to resolve the case based on a release the victim signed in 1997 when he and approximately 100 other former workers were involved in another lawsuit against Texaco, which later merged with Chevron. The victim claimed he was exposed to asbestos fibers when he worked aboard Texaco ships during his career with the company and while he had not yet been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the settlement sought to release the company from any future liability.

In the midst of thousands of lawsuits claiming plaintiffs developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious health conditions, federal regulators and Congress have issued subpoenas to pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to seek answers over whether or not the company’s talc-based products pose a risk to the public. Executives for Johnson & Johnson recently revealed the company has received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and a member of the U.S. Senate seeking information about the health risks of talcum powder products.

Revelations came in a Form 10-k securities filing in which Johnson & Johnson admitted to receiving the records requests and claimed to be fully cooperating with federal investigators looking into the dangers of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Johnson & Johnson was rocked at the end of 2018 by Reuters reporting that analyzed thousands of pages of internal company documents that appeared to show executives with the corporation knew for decades about positive tests for carcinogens in its talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces approximately 13,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country from women and men who claim they developed deadly forms of cancer from years of exposure to carcinogens in the products. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, face dozens of trials in several states which could open the company to potentially billions in liability if juries continue to hand down substantial plaintiffs verdicts as they had in 2018.

As pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, and their wholesale suppliers face a new slew of trials in 2019, New York City’s specialized asbestos court is expected to become a hotbed of litigation as plaintiffs accuse the company of causing their serious medical conditions to develop. Juries in the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCLAL) court handed down two plaintiffs verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in 2018 and the company reportedly settled a third case for $1.5 million.

Despite insisting that a substantial $4.7 billion plaintiffs verdict in an October 2018 in St, Louis was a “one off” case, Johnson & Johnson could be on the hook for millions, if not billions more, in compensation in NYCAL courts alone. The venue is known for plaintiff-friendly judges, juries, and evidentiary rules that produce plaintiffs verdicts and the compensation necessary to help victims and their families live comfortable, dignified lives.

In response to a series of articles about the dangers and liabilities of its talc-based products and upcoming trials concerning them, Johnson & Johnson released a statement saying “The decision to resolve any particular case in no way changes our overall position that our talc is safe, is asbestos free and does not cause cancer. We do not have any organized program to settle Johnson’s Baby Powder cases, nor are we planning a settlement program.”

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson reportedly settled a talcum powder cancer lawsuit for the first time ever in early January. That case involved a New York woman who claimed her rare form of cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The $1.5 million settlement is the first of its kind for Johnson & Johnson, which as of yet vigorously defended several other similar claims against it.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in New York state court, claimed that the 78-year-old plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer, from years of exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit also accused Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, of negligence for supplying the carcinogenic materials that the plaintiff claimed caused her illness.

“In litigation of every nature there are one-off situations where settlement is a reasonable alternative,” said J&J. “The decision to resolve any particular case in no way changes our overall position that our talc is safe, is asbestos free and does not cause cancer.” Johnson & Johnson is currently facing an estimated 11,700 other talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country and has several trials scheduled for 2019.

A recent report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians shed some revealing light on cancer statistics across the globe, including the most commonly diagnosed types of cancers and their mortality rates across genders. According to the report, compiled by researchers employed by the American Cancer Society, lung cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer and the one with the highest mortality rate overall, particularly among men but also among women, worldwide.

Using the GLOBOCAN 2018 estimates of cancer incidence and mortality produced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the researchers found that there were an estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases (17.0 million excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer) and 9.6 million cancer deaths (9.5 million excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer) in 2018. Across both sexes, instances of lung cancer accounted for 11.6% of the total cases and the leading cause of cancer death at 18.4% of the total cancer deaths.

Those mortality rates were closely followed by female breast cancer (11.6%), prostate cancer (7.1%), and colorectal cancer (6.1%) for incidence and colorectal cancer (9.2%), stomach cancer (8.2%), and liver cancer (8.2%) for mortality rate. The most common type of cancer and the one which has the highest mortality rate among men is lung cancer, followed by prostate cancer and colorectal cancer for incidence and liver and stomach cancer for mortality. Lung cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women and the second highest in mortality.

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