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Articles Posted in Companies & Asbestos

A New York state Supreme Court judge recently issued an important ruling allowing a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit against cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its supplier Hollingsworth & Vose. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claims that the defendants knew or should have known the asbestos contained in their cigarette filters were dangerous and could cause serious health problems for consumers.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of New York County, the plaintiff developed pleural mesothelioma as a result of smoking Kent brand cigarettes, marketed and sold by R.J. Reynolds with materials sourced by Hollingsworth & Vose, in the 1950s. The plaintiff alleges the filters in those cigarettes contained asbestos, which the defendants were aware could cause health complications.

The defendants filed various motions to have the case thrown out of court and dismissed without a trial, claiming they should not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the health effects of asbestos exposure were not widely known at the time the plaintiff smoked Kent brand cigarettes. Asbestos has only been regulated by the federal government since the 1970s, but due to its widespread use before restrictions were adopted, many companies were fully aware that their asbestos laden products posed a danger to the general public.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon take up arguments in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that could set an important precedent not only for other mesothelioma lawsuit plaintiffs but other innocent people harmed by the negligence of companies that failed to prevent foreseeable injuries. The case was brought by two surviving relatives of a man who developed mesothelioma while working aboard Navy ships, coming in contact with industrial gaskets made with deadly asbestos fibers as part of his job duties.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, entitled Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries, the defendants in the case manufactured equipment for Navy ships that did not contain asbestos themselves, but required replaceable parts manufactured by third parties that used asbestos in the construction. The plaintiffs have asked the court to hold Air and Liquid Systems liable for the victim’s passing because they claim the company knew that its products would need integrated parts manufactured with asbestos gaskets and seals by third parties.

Specifically, the plaintiffs asked the justices hearing the case to apply the “foreseeability” standard of negligence commonly used in maritime injury cases which holds that Air and Liquid Systems could reasonably foresee that aftermarket parts containing deadly chemicals could cause harm. On the other hand, the defense has asked the judges to apply a more simplified standard in tort law, holding that the duty of the party to warn rests with that party that is in the best position to control or avoid the harm, in this case, the gasket maker.

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.

A prominent asbestos researcher recently gave testimony in an asbestos mesothelioma cancer trial claiming that trace amounts of asbestos have been detected in talc sourced from mines in Vermont and Italy used in Johnson & Johnson products. That expert gave his testimony on behalf of a mesothelioma cancer patient who sued Johnson & Johnson over claims the company knew for decades about asbestos contamination in its talc-based products but refrained from placing any warning on product labels.

The case is the sixth such asbestos cancer lawsuit to go to trial against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, with some naming its talc supplier Imerys USA as a co-defendant, blaming the company for causing mesothelioma. The plaintiff in this case filed her claim in Los Angeles County Superior court and named, among other defendants, Johnson & Johnson, Chanel, and their supplier Imerys.

Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of other lawsuits across the country by plaintiffs who claim they also developed various forms of cancer related to using talc-based products developed and sold by the company for decades. Recently, a Missouri jury awarded a group of 22 plaintiffs a total of $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages for their asbestos cancer diagnosis that was caused by talc products marketed and sold by Johnson & Johnson. That very same verdict was also upheld by the trial court judge, clearing a major legal hurdle for plaintiffs trying to be made whole again.

The New Jersey state Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling that will have an important impact on asbestos cancer litigation in the state and potentially nationwide for claims against Honeywell International and other asbestos companies. The ruling centers around the insurance many of these asbestos companies retain in order to shield themselves financially from verdicts and settlements in mesothelioma cancer lawsuits for claims related to asbestos-contaminated products.

In its decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed lower state court rulings holding that a policyholder is not required to contribute in the allocation of insurance liability for periods when the relevant insurance coverage was unavailable to that policyholder in the marketplace. What this means is that insurance companies indemnifying asbestos companies may still be on the hook for legal bills even if the manufacturer did not have continuous coverage from the insurance company in question during the time the defective products were manufactured.

The case arose because Honeywell International, which once manufactured brake pads with asbestos in them, sought coverage from its carrier, Continental Insurance Company, for thousands of mesothelioma cancer claims brought against it. Continental attempted to avoid paying the claims, arguing that Honeywell International did not have coverage during the time periods in which the company manufactured the asbestos-laden products that brought on the lawsuits.

Justice recently came for the widow of a former auto mechanic who passed away after a battle with mesothelioma brought on by years of exposure to asbestos fibres while working at a large chemical company his estate claimed was responsible for the cancer diagnosis. The settlement came during the middle of a trial in a Philadelphia court, allowing the defendants to end the litigation without having to disclose the terms of the resolution or admit fault for manufacturing the asbestos-contaminated materials that caused the victim to become sick.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, the victim worked in a Gulf Oil Gas Station in South Fork from 1957-1958 performing various auto repairs with asbestos-containing brake shoes. The deceased also worked for chemical company Rohm & Haas from 1959-1997 at its Bristol facility as well as its Bristol and Croydon plants where he was allegedly exposed to asbestos fibers in thermal insulation contained on piping, kettles, boilers, valves, pumps, turbines and other equipment.

Asbestos was once commonly used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications for its heat-resistant and malleable properties as an insulation. Unfortunately for workers and installers, the material is also carcinogenic and directly linked to developing the deadly cancer, mesothelioma.

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.

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