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Articles Posted in Asbestos

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.

The long-time talc supplier for one of the country’s largest pharmaceutical and cosmetics giants recently agreed to settlement terms in its bankruptcy proceedings, which would effectively forfeit all of the supplier’s North American assets. The terms of the agreement call for France-based Imerys SA to auction off all of Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont, and Imerys Talc Canada and have the assets placed into a trust that would compensate victims who claimed the company caused their debilitating asbestos cancer conditions.

Imerys Talc USA declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in February 2109 under the weight of an estimated 14,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits in which the company was enjoined with Johnson & Johnson. Until that filing, Imerys Talc USA had for decades supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based cosmetics company that produces the iconic Baby Powder and other talc-based products.

Reports from January 2020 indicate that Imerys Talc USA had been shopping its operations for outright sale. With its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing, Imerys Talc USA was able to consolidate all of the pending lawsuits in state and federal courts in front of a single judge and remove itself from potentially millions, if not billions, of dollars in liability, which Johnson & Johnson still faces.

A recent study by U.S. researchers has found that despite projections, pleural mesothelioma diagnosis rates would decline early this century, the data analyzed over a 10-year period suggests that diagnosis rates have remained steady. Fortunately, the data looked at also suggests that survival rates of pleural mesothelioma patients have improved and those with this form of the cancer are living longer lives than those in previous generations.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The disease commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity. Mesothelioma cancers which affect the lungs are known as pleural mesothelioma, as they affect the pleural linings of the lungs.

In their study, researchers at the Taussig Cancer Center at the Cleveland Clinic looked at data from almost 21,000 pleural mesothelioma from 2004 to 2014 provided to them by the National Cancer Database. Some of the main focus of the study looked into the incidence rates, types of treatment available, and survival rates of pleural mesothelioma patients across diverse demographics of gender, age, income, and medical history.

Johnson & Johnson recently agreed to a tentative settlement in a Connecticut talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who claims he developed cancer as a result of decades of using talc-based products produced by the company. The settlement is a rare move on the part of the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant, which has taken the position to aggressively fight asbestos cancer lawsuits alleging its talcum powder products were the cause of various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of Bridgeport, the plaintiff claims he developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit also named other defendants that manufactured or sold products contaminated with asbestos which were contributing factors in his mesothelioma diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson had previously attempted to have itself removed from the lawsuit and its part of the case remanded to a federal court after its long-time talc supplier Imerys Talc USA and co-defendant in the case filed for bankruptcy. That action, which has been a strategy of Johnson & Johnson to remove itself from state courts, was unsuccessful, and the company was forced to remain enjoined with the other defendants named in the lawsuit.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently signed into law legislation passed by the state legislature which extends the deadlines for which asbestos cancer victims have to file lawsuits against companies they believe are responsible for their diagnosis. House Bill 781 passed unanimously through the House and Senate and will circumvent a decision from the Virginia Supreme Court that ruled the statute of limitations begins on the first diagnosis of any condition related to asbestos exposure.

That ruling from the Virginia Supreme Court came in 2013 from the state’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In that case, Kiser v. A.W. Chesterton, the Court was asked to determine whether the statute of limitations in an asbestos cancer lawsuit begins at the time of a mesothelioma diagnosis or, as in this case, when a doctor makes a separate diagnosis of a non-mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. Virginia, like other states, has various laws on statutes of limitations as they apply to injury claims and the time periods in which they can be filed.

In Kiser, the plaintiff sued numerous asbestos manufacturers and distributors in 1988 for damages related to the nonmalignant pleural thickening of his lungs, as well as asbestosis. 20 years later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of lung cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure. Sadly, the plaintiff passed away from his mesothelioma cancer just three months after receiving his diagnosis, and his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf in 2010 against another group of defendants not named in the 1988 lawsuit.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently agreed to a settlement in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a woman who claims her rare form of cancer was caused by decades of using the company’s cosmetics products. While the terms of the settlement were not immediately clear, the resolution is nonetheless significant because Johnson & Johnson has settled very few lawsuits brought by plaintiffs alleging similar claims against the company.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan New York Supreme Court, the 62-year-old plaintiff developed mesothelioma from decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder product. The plaintiff claimed she developed mesothelioma from carcinogenic asbestos fibers contained within the talcum powder and that Johnson & Johnson knew for years about the risk of contamination in its talc-based products but provided no warning to consumers.

The settlement was reached in the judge’s chambers just before attorneys for both sides were to commence with their opening statements in the trial. Thus far, Johnson & Johnson has chosen to litigate and defend to trial most of the talcum powder cancer lawsuits brought against it in state courts across the country and has chosen to resolve very few before or during trial. Many of those trials have resulted in significant verdicts on behalf of the plaintiffs who claimed they developed various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using talc-based products, like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, contaminated with asbestos fibers.

The family of a former Penn State University professor recently filed an asbestos cancer lawsuit against the school alleging that the victim passed away from mesothelioma cancer that he developed after years of working in dangerous conditions at the educational institution. The lawsuit seeks to recover compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering and hold the university responsible for knowingly placing the victim at undue risk in unsafe work environments.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in a Pennsylvania state court in Pittsburgh in 2016, the victim developed mesothelioma as a result of working in buildings which the university knew were constructed with asbestos in floor and ceiling tiles and insulation. The lawsuit alleges that the victim was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in 2014 and passed away just four months later, 12 years after retiring from teaching as a wood sciences professor.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit against Penn State cites a study conducted by the university in the 1970s which showed that almost one hundred buildings on its campus were built with asbestos materials. However, despite this knowledge, the school eventually ceased asbestos abatement in 1989 after administrators cited budgetary concerns, noting that “In all future projects, our goal should be to minimize the removal of asbestos to only what is absolutely required. Obviously, this will help us a lot in the area of project budgets.”

A Florida state jury recently handed down a substantial $9 million verdict in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by an 82-year-old woman who claimed she developed mesothelioma from years of using talc-based products contaminated with carcinogens. The talcum powder cancer lawsuit named New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson as the defendant, claiming that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos in its talcum powder products but provided no warnings to consumers.

The verdict comes just days after a New Jersey jury handed down an even larger verdict on behalf of four plaintiffs who claimed they too developed various forms of cancer from using Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder. In that case, the jury determined that the plaintiffs were entitled to $750 million in compensatory and punitive damages, though that verdict will be reduced in accordance with New Jersey state law.

In the Florida case, the Miami jury heard testimony that Johnson & Johnson executives knew as far back as the 1960s that talc mined from deposits in Vermont and Italy contained asbestos fibers but failed to provide any warning to consumers about the risks of asbestos exposure. As a result of years of exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart.

Johnson & Johnson’s long time talc supplier is reportedly shopping the sale of its North American talc operations after filing for bankruptcy under the weight of thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits in which the company was enjoined with the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant. Those lawsuits, which thus far have produced billions in plaintiffs verdicts, claim that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys produced and marketed talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower which contained deadly asbestos fibers and caused the victims’ debilitating and often fatal health conditions.

Among the assets up for supposed sale, Imerys is reported to consider selling strategic alternatives that could include the sale of business in North America as a whole. In February 2019, Imerys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing that the company was facing more than 14,000 lawsuits in the United States at the time. Reports stress that deliberations are still at an early stage and that no final decisions have been reached as of yet.

The reports are significant in that the proceeds from the sale of Imerys’ North American talc operations could be used to fund settlements of talcum powder cancer lawsuits, through some form of a trust. To do so, Imerys would ultimately need to negotiate with creditors, which would include insurers and those parties involved in asbestos cancer lawsuits.

The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform recently held a hearing examining health risks related to the use of talcum powder products containing asbestos, as well as the detection methods used to keep the public safe. The hearing comes on the heels of news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced had detected asbestos in one lot of pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and that the company would voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the product.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 15,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs claiming their serious medical conditions, including various forms of cancer, were caused by decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Many of those lawsuits allege the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked with exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers.

While talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can often be found side by side one another, creating the possibility of cross contamination if precautions are not taken to protect innocent consumers. Despite federal laws requiring talc products to be asbestos-free, strong evidence exists that Johnson & Johnson continued to produce talc-based products that tested positive for asbestos.

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