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Articles Posted in Asbestos Containing Materials

A U.S. federal judge recently handed down an important ruling in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit that will allow four expert witnesses to testify on behalf of the plaintiff who claims that her husband developed a serious form of lung cancer as a result of negligence on the part of the deceased’s former employer. Attorneys for defendant Air & Liquid Services Inc. had sought to exclude the expert witnesses’ testimony in the case, in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to skirt liability for the harm caused by their client.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the deceased victim worked in the engine room aboard the USS Tuscaloosa in 1974 and was exposed to asbestos containing components during that time. As a result of his exposure to deadly asbestos fibers while serving his country, the deceased developed a rare and deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.

One of the expert witnesses the plaintiff had intended to call at trial was to testify that during the 1960s and 1970s, ships like the USS Tuscaloosa would have their asbestos-containing gaskets removed and replaced during routine maintenance. Further, the removal and replacement of these asbestos gaskets would often produce airborne asbestos fibers, which would settle on horizontal surfaces  in densely packed machinery spaces and that enginemen like the deceased would work on these types of systems.

A New York City jury recently handed down a substantial verdict to a woman who blamed the maker of the talc-based cosmetics powder for her cancer diagnosis, claiming that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos exposure but provided no warning to her and other consumers about the dangers. The Manhattan jury awarded the plaintiffs, the victim and her husband, $325 million in actual and punitive damages, finding that defendant Johnson & Johnson acted with negligence and recklessness by knowingly selling a carcinogenic product to the public.

The $325 million awarded consisted of $25 million in actual damages of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as a tremendous $300 million in punitive damages for what the jury deemed to be especially reckless conduct on the part of Johnson & Johnson. However, the judge hearing the case ultimately cut the jury’s award down to $15 million in actual damages and $105 million in punitive damages but gave the plaintiffs the option of requesting a new trial solely for the damages portion of the case. Ultimately, the plaintiffs opted to accept the reduced award.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit alleged that the plaintiff developed mesothelioma cancer from years of using asbestos-contaminated Baby Powder manufactured and sold by pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiff filed her lawsuit back in 2017 after receiving her mesothelioma diagnosis, which is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the heart and lungs and abdominal cavity.

The Missouri Supreme Court recently rejected a bid by the world’s largest pharmaceutical and cosmetics producer to overturn a monumental award in an asbestos cancer lawsuit handed down by jurors back in July 2018. The Court refused to hear an appeal stemming from a June decision from the state’s appeals court that upheld liability on the part of defendant Johnson & Johnson along with a substantial portion of the multibillion dollar verdict handed down by the jury in the trial court.

In 2018, a Missouri state court jury handed down $4.69 billion to 22 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that alleged Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder caused their cancer diagnosis, many of which were terminal. At trial, the jury was presented with evidence which showed that Johnson & Johnson knew as far back as the 1970s that the talcum powder used for its Baby Powder product was contaminated with asbestos fibers but chose not to disclose any warnings on the labels of its products for consumers.

The $4.69 billion verdict was eventually reduced by the Missouri state appeals court down to $2.12 billion but still upheld the jury’s verdict, saying that it was reasonable to infer from the evidence that Johnson & Johnson “disregarded the safety of consumers” for the sake of profit, despite knowing its talc products caused ovarian cancer. With the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, Johnson & Johnson’s last option to throw out the award lies with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which the company vowed it would do after news broke of the decision.

An Ohio appeals court recently revived an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by the widow of a mesothelioma cancer victim who claimed that he developed a rare and deadly form of lung cancer from years of exposure to asbestos while working with the Bendix brakes. After a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas granted the defendant, Honeywell International, Inc., summary judgment in 2017, the Eighth Appellate District in Ohio agreed with the plaintiff that the lower court erred in its decision and that there were genuine issues of fact about the case for a jury to decide in a court of law.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, the plaintiff’s widow alleged that her husband developed mesothelioma from using Bendix brake products developed by Honeywell International while working as a supervisor for a company that manufactured intercity buses. The plaintiff presented testimony from the victim’s coworker that stated the victim spent significant time in the area of the facility where brake work was being done, where asbestos fibers from the defendant’s Bendix brakes were present in the air. Further, the plaintiff claimed that her husband was exposed to asbestos fibers during the time he worked in the area of the facility where Bendix brake linings were grounded.

Fortunately for the plaintiff, the Ohio appeals court agreed that the case should be heard by a jury and gave the victim a chance for his case to be heard in court, six years after his passing in 2014. The case is yet another example of the lengths to which gigantic companies will go in order to skirt liability for the harm caused by the products they knew or should have known could pose a health risk to workers and the general public.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently agreed to a significant settlement to resolve over 1,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits claiming that plaintiffs developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, as a result of exposure to deadly carcinogens in the company’s talc-based products. The terms of the settlement, the first major settlement during the years of litigation related to the cases, calls for Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $100 million in total to the group of plaintiffs, but still leaves thousands more cases unresolved.

According to securities filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 20,000 other asbestos cancer lawsuits from plaintiffs who claim that they developed cancer from years of using the company’s iconic Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. This year, despite maintaining that its products are safe for consumers, Johnson & Johnson announced that it will cease all sales of talc-based Baby Powder in North America, while continuing to sell the original formula with talc in overseas markets.

Many lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson allege that the talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products are contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos fibers, which are directly linked to developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissues surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. While researchers and scientists across the globe continue to search for a cure and make progress developing therapeutics to help mesothelioma patients, there is still currently no cure for the disease and patients are often left with months to live by the time a diagnosis is made.

The world’s largest chemical company recently agreed to a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who allege that the company lied about the presence of asbestos in its talc, which caused various types of cancer including mesothelioma. Per the terms of the settlement, German chemical company BASF will set aside $72.5 million for plaintiffs who filed asbestos cancer lawsuits against the company between March 1984 and March 2011, including those whose claims were dismissed or voluntarily withdrawn.

The settlement still awaits the approval of a New Jersey federal judge, and if approved, it would allow BASF to resolve claims covered by the agreed upon time period while not admitting any wrongdoing to the allegations made in the lawsuits. Specifically, the claims concerned Englehard Corp., which BASF acquired in 2006, which produced talc based products used in both industrial settings and consumer products.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, one plaintiff claimed that she developed cancer as a result of secondhand exposure to carcinogenic materials brought home on the clothes of her father, who was a research assistant who claimed that the defendants knew about contaminated talc for years. The case went through years of litigation, during which time the case was dismissed but later resurrected by a federal court that found that the defendants engaged in systemic fraud in order to derail the judicial process.

A New Jersey federal judge recently handed down an order indicating that the court will randomly select 1,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits to proceed as bellwether trials for the estimated 16,000 total of such cases currently pending before federal courts. The order comes just a few months after the same judge handed down an important ruling which allowed the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses to present evidence at trial showing that defendant Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products caused the victims’ cancers.

Per the judge’s order, the plaintiffs in the selected cases will have three months to order and produce medical records related to their cancer diagnoses. Further, the records produced must be served to the defendants within that same 90-day period.

The lawsuits accuse pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson of knowingly manufacturing and selling asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products to consumers without any warnings about the health effects of using the products. Such talcum powder products include Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Until recently, Johnson & Johnson’s longtime talc supplier Imerys Talc USA was named to many of the lawsuits but the company has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A New York court recently denied a bid by a defendant in an asbestos cancer lawsuit to have the case thrown out and instead sided with the plaintiff, ruling that the issue of credibility to the plaintiff’s testimony is a question that should be left to a jury. In denying defendant Baltimore Aircoil Company Inc.’s motion for summary judgement, the court ruled that the company had not met the legal standards to show that its products could not have caused the plaintiff’s injury.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in New York County Supreme Court, the plaintiff worked as an air conditioning mechanic as an upperclassman in high school and subsequently continued working full time after graduating. In his deposition testimony, the plaintiff stated that he frequently worked on cooling towers manufactured by Baltimore Aircoil Company, specifically at the Squibb Building, the World Trade Center, and at Rockefeller University.

In his testimony, the plaintiff described the characteristics of the cooling towers he asserts were produced by Baltimore Aircoil Company. Those features include the shape of the cooling towers, ventilation louvers, and brackets. The plaintiff further described the asbestos containing gaskets that he would replace as a regular and frequent part of his maintenance duties while working on the cooling towers manufactured by Baltimore Aircoil Company. The plaintiff testified that while cleaning and scraping off the old gaskets, the process created visible dust that he inhaled.

A national industrial manufacturer recently set aside two newly created units of its business in order to fund an asbestos bankruptcy trust and relieve itself from the hundreds of mesothelioma cancer lawsuits it faces each and every year. As part of the liability restructuring, Trane Technologies Plc formed two subsidiaries, Aldrich Pump LLC and Murray Boiler LLC, back in May 2020 in order to transfer assets and liability to the new business entities and enjoin all asbestos cancer-related lawsuits against Trane Technologies.

After creating Aldrich Pump LLC and Murray Boiler LLC, Trane Technologies subsequently transferred tens of millions of dollars in cash and assets and recently had these entities file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The end game for the transfer of assets and liability is to ultimately establish an asbestos bankruptcy trust which plaintiffs with claims against Trane Technologies to file claims against.

According to Trane Technologies, the company resolves through trial or settlement an estimated 900 asbestos cancer lawsuits each year and spends nearly $100 million on litigation costs, which includes payouts for victims and the company’s out attorney’s fees. The strategy is a similar one enacted by other asbestos companies like Bestwall LLC and Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc. in order to shield the parent companies from asbestos cancer lawsuits brought by victims who claim they developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in the defendant’s products.

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.

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