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Articles Posted in Companies & Asbestos

A St. Louis state jury recently handed down a substantial $8.4 million plaintiff’s verdict on behalf of a former auto mechanic who claimed his mesothelioma cancer diagnosis was due to negligence on the part of Ford Motor Company. The jury’s award included $5,725,000 in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages, as well as an additional $708,000 in actual damages for the victim’s wife, finding she “did sustain damage as a direct result of injury to her husband.”

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in St. Louis City Circuit Court, the plaintiff was allegedly exposed to asbestos fibers by working with brakes, gaskets, clutches, and OEM replacement parts developed and sold by Ford Motor Company. As a result of years of exposure to asbestos, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which usually affects the lungs but can spread to other areas of the body such as the heart and abdomen.

The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claims that despite Ford’s knowledge about the risks the asbestos in its auto parts could pose to innocent people, the automaker chose not to provide any warning about the dangers. The plaintiff worked as a mechanic at Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln automobile dealerships from the 1960s until the 1980s, much of that during a period before the federal government had addressed the dangers of asbestos.

A Florida state appeals court recently denied a motion by the defendant in an asbestos cancer lawsuit to bar testimony from one of its company executives who plaintiffs say would have inside knowledge about the defendant’s history and interactions with asbestos-containing products, as well as its adherence to occupational health and safety laws. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit names utility company Florida Power & Light Co. as the defendant and accused the business of knowingly exposing the plaintiff to dangerous carcinogens which caused his cancer diagnosis and other health problems.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, originally filed in 2017 in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma from decades of asbestos exposure over the course of his employment at Florida Power & Light Co. The plaintiff asserts that the company’s negligence is responsible for his deadly cancer diagnosis by allowing him to work with and around asbestos at power plants operated by Florida Power & Light without any warning about the dangers posed by the carcinogenic material.

In its defense of the lawsuit, Florida Power & Light Co. sought a court’s injunction to block the plaintiff from deposing corporate representatives who would testify about the victim’s work conditions at the time of his employment. According to court documents, “FPL moved for protective orders from each notice and in support, submitted an affidavit prepared by its senior attorney, stating that compliance and production would require FPL to expend significant time, be voluminous and would cost millions of dollars.”

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 Louisiana federal judge recently denied a motion by the Ford Motor Co. which sought to throw out the asbestos cancer lawsuit, brought on behalf of the now deceased victim, alleging the automaker and others are responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. While the same judge did rule partly in favor of Ford in limiting some of the claims brought against the company, the other asbestos-related claims may proceed against Ford and other named defendants.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the  Eastern District of Louisiana, the victim developed peritoneal mesothelioma during his work as a mechanic and generator service technician. After filing his asbestos cancer lawsuit in a Louisiana state court in 2017, the case was removed to federal court the following year. Sadly, the victim passed away from his asbestos related cancer in 2018, leaving his surviving family to continue to action under a wrongful death claim.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs made claims against the Ford Motor Co. under Louisiana’s general negligence statute, employer liability statute, premises liability as owners of the premises where the victim worked, and product liability laws for manufacturing the asbestos laden products. In seeking to skirt liability, Ford claimed the plaintiffs were barred from recovering for any damages under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act (LWCA) because the alleged injuries took place during the course of the victim’s employment.

A Delaware federal judge recently denied a request by pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to remove thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits from various state courts and place them all under the purview of a single jurisdiction. Johnson & Johnson made the request after its co-defendant and talc supplier in the lawsuits, Imerys Talc USA, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of the litigation the two companies faced.

Johnson & Johnson had sought to invoke legal protections afforded to Imerys as a means to collect the estimated 2,400 talcum powder lawsuits under one federal judge and form a single defense strategy. Those claims alleged that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc USA were responsible for the plaintiffs’ injuries due to the presence of asbestos fibers about which the two defendants knew but failed to provide any warnings to consumers.

Fortunately for the plaintiffs, who have yet to have their day in court, the judge hearing the motion denied Johnson & Johnson’s request. In her ruling the judge noted that “J&J cannot establish an emergency” tied to Imerys’ bankruptcy-reorganization effort. The judge went on to note that “J&J’s desire to centralize its own state-law litigation does not justify the finding of an emergency” requiring immediate transfer.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling in a mesothelioma lawsuit in which it held that companies may be held liable when third party components necessary for a product’s operation cause injury.  The case was originally brought by two Navy veterans and their wives against Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and four other manufacturers of equipment used on Navy ships that required asbestos parts to function as intended.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs developed their illnesses due to years of asbestos exposure aboard Navy ships. The victims blamed the exposure on components manufactured by third parties designed to fit equipment made by the defendants. The plaintiffs argued that since the defendants knew their equipment required products manufactured with asbestos by third parties, they should have provided warnings and are therefore liable for the exposure.

In their defense, Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and the other defendants relied on what is known as a “bare metal” defense, arguing that they delivered their products to the Navy without any asbestos and did not manufacture the carcinogenic parts. However, the Supreme Court did not accept the defendants’ arguments, instead relying on established maritime law that extends special protections to Navy veterans.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson may be the sole defendant in an estimated 12,700 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits after its main talc supplier recently filed for bankruptcy under the weight of thousands of such cases across the country. Imerys Talc USA, which had supplied Johnson & Johnson with talc sourced from overseas mines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware federal court and was subsequently released as a defendant from a nearly two-month trial in California state court.

“After carefully evaluating all possible options, we determined pursuing Chapter 11 protection is the best course of action to address our historic talc-related liabilities and position the companies for continued growth,” Imerys Talc America President Giorgio La Motta said in a statement. Under the law, companies who file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy are protected from litigation, a move that allows the insolvent company to reorganize and determine the best way to settle claims with creditors.

Legal experts have speculated that after juries handed down multi-billion dollar verdicts in 2018, Imerys Talc USA essentially saw the writing on the wall and chose to insulate itself from potentially billions more in verdicts. In just a handful of trials last year, juries handed down a combined excess of $5 billion in plaintiffs verdicts, including a $4.7 billion award from a Missouri state court to 22 plaintiffs or their estates who claimed to have suffered serious health complications as a result of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.

A New York state appeals court recently heard arguments in a case brought by a plaintiff who claims he developed mesothelioma cancer after he signed a settlement release with the company he accused of causing his mesothelioma cancer by exposure to asbestos. The New York Court of Appeals will decide whether part of the Federal Employer’s Liability Act negates a settlement release signed by the plaintiff in the case nearly two-decades ago and allow his claim against his previous employer to move forward.

The plaintiff in the case originally brought his asbestos lawsuit against Texaco in 2014, claiming he developed mesothelioma cancer while he served as a seaman in the Merchant Marine for nearly 40 years. The plaintiff had filed a previous lawsuit against Texaco, along with more than 100 other individuals, in federal court during the 1990s over a pulmonary injury suffered from exposure to asbestos and second-hand smoke on merchant ships.

Texaco and the plaintiff resolved the first claim, with the plaintiff and other co-plaintiffs signing settlement releases which sought to discharge the company from any future liability over the health effects of asbestos exposure. The settlement release read in part the plaintiff “understands that the long term effects of exposure to asbestos … may result in obtaining a new and different diagnosis from the diagnosis as of the date of this release.”

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.

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