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A long running lawsuit brought by the state of Mississippi against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson may proceed, after the state supreme court refused to side with the company in its bid to toss the claim involving allegations that it violated state laws concerning labeling of its talc-based products. Specifically, the lawsuit brought by Mississippi’s attorney general claimed that Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose possible health risks associated with using the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talcum powder products which the company faces an avalanche of litigation in federal and state courts across the country.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Hinds County Chancery Court in 2014, Johnson & Johnson violated Mississippi’s Consumer Protection Act when the company failed to include labels on its talcum powder products displaying a warning of the possible links between using talc-based products and developing ovarian cancer. The state’s attorney general’s lawsuit sought an injunction to force Johnson & Johnson to include warnings on talcum powder product labels and enforce violations with fines up to $10,000.

After the state filed its preliminary lawsuit in county court, Johnson & Johnson asked the court to toss out the lawsuit. After the chancery court refused to do so in December 2018, the company appealed to a state appellate court to do the same, but was met with a similar denial. Johnson & Johnson subsequently went to the state’s highest court for yet another dismissal, arguing that labeling requirements on its cosmetics products are preempted by federal laws and the state therefore had no authority to require the company include the types of warning labels the matter pertained to.

British researchers recently published findings in genomics studies which used artificial intelligence to help study mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers. The hope of the findings is that the research and analysis could help improve patient outcomes and improve the prognosis for those who are diagnosed with the as of right now incurable disease, and potentially help find answers to a cure for mesothelioma.

The research undertaken by the University of Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme reveals that, using AI analysis of DNA-sequenced cancer cells, the disease evolves along similar and repeated paths between individuals. Those paths predict the overall aggressiveness and could show possible individualized therapies which could be applied to help fight the disease.

Professor Dean Fennell, Chair of Thoracic Medical Oncology at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme, said “It has long been appreciated that asbestos causes mesothelioma, however, how this occurs remains a mystery. Using AI to interrogate genomic ‘big data’, this initial work shows us that mesotheliomas follow ordered paths of mutations during development and that these so-called trajectories predict not only how long a patient may survive, but also how to better treat cancer – something Leicester aims to lead on internationally through clinical trial initiatives.”

The effects of COVID-19 have been felt across nearly every facet of life in America, and the courts have certainly been no exception. With health and safety protocols limiting in-person gatherings, many individuals seeking justice through the courts have had their hearings and trials seemingly inevitably delayed until the United States is able to bring the virus under control in order to resume our way of life. However, some have been fortunate in that their cases have been able to continue with relatively modest delay, as in the case of a Minnesota factory worker whose trial is finally scheduled to take place in May 2021.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court in 2019, the now deceased plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in December 2018, and caused due to his exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers from his years of working the the Conwed Corporation’s mineral board plant in Cloquet, Minn. According to media reports, the city of Cloquet has a mesothelioma cancer death rate that is 36% higher than anywhere else in the state of Minnesota, and the rate of diagnosis is up to 70 times higher than the average. The report goes on to state that lung cancer screenings have shown that at least 30% of Condwed’s former employees surveyed have developed mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that usually affects vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Developing the disease is directly associated with exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was once used in a variety of commercial, industrial, and military applications for its heat resistant properties and ability to be molded to fit a variety of uses. Conwed Corporation allegedly used asbestos in the construction of its mineral board products at the Cloquet plant from 1958 until 1974, the time period during which the deceased plaintiff was employed at the facility.

A California appeals court recently upheld a substantial multimillion dollar jury verdict awarded to a husband and wife who claimed that the defendant caused the husband’s rare and deadly form of cancer from exposure to asbestos containing products manufactured by the company. In their verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, the California state jury awarded the husband over $14 million for his economic damages, as well as his pain and suffering, and an additional $1 million to his wife for her loss of consortium. The defendant, J-M Manufacturing, appealed the jury’s verdict in the hopes of having the verdict and the awards tossed.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2018, the husband plaintiff was employed as a construction worker and supervision during the 1970s and 1980s. During that time, according to the lawsuit, he was frequently exposed to asbestos fibers in cement pipes manufactured and sold by J-M Manufacturing. As a result of this exposure to asbestos containing products over nearly two decades, the plaintiff developed a rare and deadly form of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

After a trial spanning October and November 2018, the Los Angeles County jury awarded the plaintiff and his wife over $15 million in compensatory damages for their past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Additionally, the jury saw fit to award the plaintiffs an additional $15 million in punitive damages, which are a special type of award handed down in circumstances where it can be established that a defendant acted with an much more egregious level of negligence.

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