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Articles Posted in Asbestos Containing Materials

A New Jersey federal judge held key evidentiary hearings in coordinated pretrial proceedings covering thousands of asbestos talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson through the process of multidistrict litigation (MDL). Lawsuits involved in MDL allow both sides to conduct common discovery in cases to apply rules at trial which will apply at trial for all the individual cases, a procedure which may benefit both plaintiffs and defendants depending on the judge’s rulings.

Of particular importance to the pretrial MDL hearings in the asbestos cancer lawsuits are the expert witnesses identified by the plaintiffs to testify at trial. Those expert witnesses include biologists, physicians and epidemiologists who have concluded there is scientific evidence that talc use can cause ovarian cancer. Back in May 2019, Johnson & Johnson asked the federal judge overseeing the MDL process to exclude the opinions of 22 expert witnesses retained by the plaintiff on the grounds these individuals “they misapply scientific principles” and “engage in unsupported leaps of logic.”

Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson have said in media interviews that an exclusion of some or all of the plaintiffs’ witnesses along with a judge’s ruling there is insufficient evidence of causation to present to any jury would wipe out the majority of the cases before they could see a courtroom. On the other hand, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have asked the judge to deny Johnson & Johnson’s request, arguing their expert witnesses are qualified and rely on sound methodologies to reach their opinions.

A popular young YouTube star and celebrity babysitter recently had her children’s-makeup line pulled from store shelves after testing by the Food and Drug Administration confirmed the products are contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos fibers. The FDA took to Twitter to announce, “Today, the FDA is releasing new results from its continued testing of cosmetic products for asbestos & is warning consumers to not use 2 additional products that have tested positive for asbestos & have been recalled.”

The FDA urged parents to be on the lookout for the makeup kits, which contain candy colored eyeshadow palette, two lip glosses, and nail polish, and has been on sale since March 2018 at Claire’s retail stores. The move comes just a few months after Claire’s was forced to recall other makeup products after media investigations found those makeup lines also contained asbestos and other toxic substances.

Asbestos is a deadly cancer-causing mineral once used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications because of its heat-resistant properties and ability to be molded into almost any shape to fit the job. While the federal government has heavily regulated asbestos since the 1980s to the point that is still used, thousands of people suffer the after-effects of asbestos exposure every year.

Reports recently surfaced that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether or not pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson new about the risks its talc-based products posed to consumers but chose not to warn the public. The criminal probe comes as Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits in civil courts across the country brought by plaintiffs who claim they developed various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from using the company’s talcum powder products.

A federal grand jury in Washington state is currently examining internal company documents related to what Johnson & Johnson knew about the presence of asbestos fibers or other carcinogens in its talcum powder products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. While talcum powder products make up only a small part of the company’s sales, they nonetheless have been a core brand for Johnson & Johnson for over a century.

Johnson & Johnson had disclosed to shareholders in February that the company received subpoenas from the Justice Department but those documents did not mention a grand jury had been convened nor whether the matter was of a criminal or civil nature. In response to the developments, Johnson & Johnson executives released a statement saying, “We have been fully cooperating with the previously disclosed DOJ investigation and will continue to do so. Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer, as supported by decades of independent clinical evidence.”

A California state jury is slated to hear opening arguments in an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson over allegations that the company knew for decades about the health risks associated with its talc-based products. The asbestos cancer lawsuit names Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys Talc USA, as defendants and seeks compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering of living with the mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Alameda County California Superior Court, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma from years of using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products developed and manufactured by Johnson & Johnson with materials sourced by Imerys Talc USA. The lawsuit claims that despite knowing for decades about the health risks of asbestos exposure from tainted talcum powder, Johnson & Johnson continued to market and sell these same products without any warning labels for consumers.

The trial is the first one of this type scheduled this year against Johnson & Johnson and the first since a report by Reuters which showed that the company knew about positive asbestos tests on its talcum powder sourced by Imerys USA. That report looked at thousands of pages of internal Johnson & Johnson company files that showed both company tests and those conducted by outside labs confirmed the presence of potentially deadly levels of asbestos in its talc supply.

A recent report by Reuters claims that pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contaminating its talc-based products, but did nothing to warn consumers about the dangers of exposure to the deadly carcinogen. Those claims come after the news outlet examined thousands of pages of internal company documents going back to the 1970s through the early 2000s that show Johnson & Johnson withheld information about asbestos from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the article, Johnson & Johnson’s first recorded knowledge of potential asbestos contamination in its talc comes from 1957 and 1958 reports by a consulting lab describing contaminants in its products from the supplier. Those contaminants were described by the consulting lab as fibrous and acicular tremolite, one of the six-naturally occuring forms of asbestos.

Over the next several decades, other reports by Johnson & Johnson’s own scientists, outside consulting labs, and suppliers would show similar findings, including one identifying contaminants in the talc as “fiberform” and “rods.” Despite these obvious red flags, Johnson & Johnson chose not to put any warning labels on its talc-based products and allowed its potentially deadly items to remain on the market.

A New Jersey state court recently handed down an important decision in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that holds manufacturers can still be responsible for a person’s mesothelioma diagnosis if that person came in contact with asbestos in aftermarket replacement parts, even if the manufacturer did not make or distribute the items. The ruling overturns a lower court decision in favor of the defendants, which consisted of several asbestos manufacturers attempting to skirt their legal responsibility to warn the public about the dangers their products could pose.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Middlesex County Superior Court, the plaintiff developed a serious form of cancer, mesothelioma, from years of coming in contact with asbestos-contaminated parts as a commercial plumber and auto repair mechanic. Specifically, the plaintiff worked as a boiler technician from the 1950s until the early 1990s and handled valves, steam traps, and brake drums manufactured by Armstrong International Inc., Burnham LLC, Carrier Corp., Cleaver-Brooks Inc., Crown Boiler Co., Ford Motor Co., Johnson Controls Inc., NIBCO Inc., and Oakfabco Inc.

While the parts the plaintiff came in contact with were not manufactured by the named defendants, his lawsuit charged that because the companies knew their products would need routine maintenance and repair with aftermarket parts made with asbestos, that these entities owed a duty to warn. In their decision, the Appellate Judges wrote “We conclude that a duty to warn exists when the manufacturer’s product contains asbestos components, which are integral to the function of the product, and the manufacturer is aware that routine periodic maintenance of the product will require the replacement of the components with other asbestos-containing products.”

A consumer watchdog group recently released a report detailing how several popular brands of various school supplies may contain harmful levels of various toxins, including asbestos, which is known to cause deadly forms of cancer. Specifically, the report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) claims Playskool brand crayons test positive for deadly amounts of asbestos and the group demands the manufacturers pull the products from shelves and send warning letters to parents who may have purchased the supplies for children.

According to the consumer protection report issued by the U.S. PIRG, detailed lab results showed 36-pack Playskool crayons manufactured by Leap Year under license from Hasbro contained asbestos contaminated talc. The group claims the crayons were purchased from a Chicago-area Dollar Tree retail store but the same types of crayons are available from many major retailers and online. Other school supplies tested by U.S. PIRG showed products ranging from markers to water bottles contained disturbing amounts of other known carcinogens.

While talc does not contain asbestos itself, the two are both naturally occurring minerals often found in deposits side by side. Since the 1970s, federal regulations have required talc to be asbestos-free, but if manufacturers and their suppliers do not exercise due care, asbestos can contaminate the talc and put innocent people at risk. Right now, thousands of people across the country have filed lawsuits alleging talc-based products produced by some of the country’s largest corporations caused their mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral which was widely used for insulation and fire resistant materials in construction, ship building, and automobile parts. It is a material used due its strength and ability to insulate and resist heat, electricity, and chemical attack.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned some uses of asbestos back in 1973¹. However, it remains inside millions of buildings and homes today. It still continues to be used in some products imported from outside the country, such as clutches for vehicles and brake pads.

Asbestos is fibrous, and when these needle-like particles are dislodged and become airborne, they are inhaled into the lungs, where they become embedded in the lining of the lungs, creating irritation and eventually, cancer. People also can be exposed by swallowing the fibers. Generally, those exposed to asbestos develop cancer within the first 15 years of being first exposed, according to the American Cancer Society².

A former secretary at the Miami-Dade courthouse recently filed an asbestos cancer lawsuit against the county claiming the hazards she was subjected to over the course of her employment are responsible for her medical conditions. As a result of her daily exposure to asbestos and mold, the plaintiff’s asbestos cancer lawsuit claims she was forced to undergo lung-extraction surgery and continues to undergo chemotherapy.

According to her asbestos exposure lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that she started working at the now 90-year-old courthouse in 1994 before moving to another county building in Doral in 2005, where she also faced unsafe working conditions. The plaintiff contends that despite never being a smoker or in poor health, she developed her stage-two lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos and mold.

In 2016, the Miami-Dade County commissioner conducted a study on the courthouse and found that the building had not been inspected since 1988 and that recent tests detected the presence of asbestos in the structure. As a result of the report, the county undertook efforts to abate the courthouse of asbestos, but it remains unclear whether the project has been completed.

You have an old house that was built in the early 1900s, and your family is investing thousands of dollars in a remodeling project. The contractors have signed on for the work and are about to begin. But you may have overlooked something.

Asbestos? Couldn’t be, you think. Your inspector made no mention of it when you bought the house four years earlier. But upon your research, you learn that many older homes – including some built through the 1980s – contain asbestos.

What you discover soon startles you. Asbestos – a fire-retardant material used in home construction – can be found in a number of places within a home. When asbestos becomes damaged, its fibers become airborne and easily inhaled, potentially leading to severe illnesses such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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