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A New York-based minerals and chemical company recently agreed to a settlement during jury deliberations in a Florida state court to resolve an industrial talc mesothelioma cancer lawsuit. While the settlement terms between Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. and the plaintiffs was not disclosed, the plaintiffs’ mesothelioma cancer lawsuit had asked for $11.5 million in total compensation, making the settlement likely in the millions of dollars.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in Polk County court, the plaintiff worked for the Florida Tile Company during the 1970s, during which time he claims he used asbestos-laden products produced by Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. The lawsuit claimed that Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. knew about the risks of asbestos exposure from the talc it used in its products but provided no warning to workers about these risks.

The plaintiff alleged that Vanderbilt Mineral, Inc.’s talc came sourced from a mine that had been proven to contain asbestos and that the company manufactured and sold these products to Florida Tile Company during his tenure. Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that can be found in deposits side by side one another. If talc sourcing companies or those processing the mineral do not take precautions to test for asbestos contamination, innocent consumers may suffer from serious health conditions from exposure to the carcinogen.

A Missouri appeals court recently upheld an important talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by almost two dozen plaintiffs who claim their or their loved one’s disease was directly caused by years of using carcinogenic cosmetics products. In its decisions, the Missouri Court of Appeals disagreed with defendant Johnson & Johnson’s defense that its products were safe for use by consumers, and that its iconic Baby Powder has been asbestos-free for decades.

“This trial showed clear and convincing evidence that defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference,” the Missouri Court of Appeals wrote. “Motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers, despite the knowledge that talc in their products caused ovarian cancer.”

Johnson & Johnson had brought the appeal to contest a 2018 trial court verdict in which the jury handed down a then-record breaking $4.64 billion verdict on behalf of the 22 plaintiffs who claimed the company knowingly marketed a dangerous product. Johnson & Johnson, in its appeal, had asserted that the plaintiffs failed to present substantial enough evidence to show that the company acted with the level of negligence necessary to justify such a monumental verdict.

A Virginia federal court recently denied a defendant asbestos company’s bid to dismiss maritime law claims brought by the estate of a deceased plaintiff who claimed the victim developed mesothelioma through years of using carcinogenic asbestos products produced by the defendant. In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia determined that U.S. admiralty law does in fact apply to the case and the matter may proceed based on the allegations of fact there in.

The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit alleged that during his service in the United States Navy, the victim worked for years doing shipbuilding and repair using asbestos-laden parts manufactured and sold by John Crane, Inc. The plaintiff’s estate elected to file the asbestos cancer claim under U.S. maritime law because his injuries occurred on navigable waters of the country, and therefore entitled to additional benefits and compensation under such statutes.

Court filings indicate that John Crane, Inc. did not necessarily contest that its products in question contained asbestos, or that they may have necessarily caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Instead, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff’s case should be tried under Virginia state law, as they claimed any injuries the plaintiff suffered occurred while the ships he was working on were docked in ports in the state. John Crane, Inc. further argued that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma diagnosis was due to “asbestos work,” which would make it an inappropriate claim to bring under U.S. maritime law.

A New York asbestos court recently struck down a motion by defendants in an asbestos cancer lawsuit which has sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff was a smoker who otherwise ignored health warnings on the packages of cigarettes he smoked. In its decision, the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York soundly rejected the desperate attempt by defendants Viacom Inc. and General Electric Company to avoid liability for the alleged negligence that the plaintiff’s estate claims was directly responsible for the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

The crux of Viacom and General Electric’s motion for summary judgment was that since now deceased plaintiff was a longtime smoker who did not heed the warnings placed on cigarette packages he smoked, the victim therefore would have ignored any warnings the companies would have, but did not, place on their own allegedly carcinogenic asbestos products. In response, the plaintiff’s estate argued that he had not been aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes when he started his habit, but tried repeatedly to quit once he learned of the health risks.

In its decision, the New York Supreme Court called the defendants’ argument “speculative” and that the question of the victim’s credibility to his claims must be left to a jury to decide. The court further found another motion brought by defendants to dismiss claims for punitive damages as unpersuasive, leaving open the possibility that a jury could ultimately award additional damages should they find the companies’ conduct rose to the standards which would warrant such additional compensation.

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