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Articles Posted in Companies & Asbestos

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.

A Louisiana state jury recently handed down a substantial verdict in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit brought by a former longshoreman who claims he developed a serious form of lung cancer from years of asbestos exposure during the 1960s. The New Orleans jury found that defendants Ports America Gulfport Inc., Cooper T. Smith Stevedoring Co. Inc. and South African Marine Corp. were all responsible for the plaintiff’s mesothelioma diagnosis, and awarded the victim $10.3 million in total compensation for his injuries.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Louisiana Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma from unloading raw asbestos from ships docked at the wharfs he worked from 1964 to 1968. The plaintiff further alleged that he came in contact with asbestos through second hand exposure from the work clothes his father would wear while working as a longshoreman himself.

The lawsuit alleged that the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers posed by asbestos and provided warning to the plaintiff and other workers. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, the defendants chose to ignore such information or condoned the concealment of such in order to continue with their business practice of selling asbestos and asbestos-containing products. As a result of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma and suffered serious injury.

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.

Georgia-Pacific LLC recently pledged to advance $1 billion to an asbestos liability trust fund to compensate victims who developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers as a result of exposure to asbestos caused by one of the company’s subsidiaries. Georgia-Pacific’s affiliate, Bestwall LLC, is currently embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings as part of reorganization proceedings to free the parent company from the legal liability from the subsidiary, which it purchased in 1965.

During its history, Bestwall LLC, formerly known as Bestwall Gypsum Company, manufactured asbestos containing products such as gypsum wallboard, acoustical plaster, joint compounds and drywall adhesives. Bestwall used asbestos, as many companies did for decades, due to the mineral’s heat-resistant properties which allowed it to be molded to fit a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications.

Unfortunately for workers and consumers, asbestos is a known carcinogen that is directly linked to developing mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects the thin linings of tissues surrounding the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Even worse, asbestos companies like Bestwall knew for years about the health risks posed by exposure to asbestos but provided no safety precautions or warnings to manufacturing workers, those working with the materials, or consumers about the risks associated with the carcinogenic products. Sadly, thousands of Americans every year receive a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, leaving most of them with just months to live and few treatment options to improve their prognosis,

A New Jersey federal judge recently denied a motion to throw out a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit brought by the widow of a man who claimed he developed terminal cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos while serving aboard U.S. Navy ships. With the judge’s ruling, the lawsuit clears an important legal hurdle for the victims’ surviving spouse to hold the defendants accountable for their actions of putting her late husband and potentially other service members at risk for serious health conditions.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the deceased victim was exposed to asbestos fibers while serving aboard U.S.S. Charles H. Roan in the 1960s. The source of the asbestos exposure, according to the lawsuit, was from forced draft blowers manufactured with asbestos-containing gaskets manufactured by defendant Westinghouse. Those parts needed periodical replacement, based on specifications by the U.S. Navy.

Additionally, the U.S.S. Roan was equipped with a pair of boilers manufactured by co-defendant Foster Wheeler, which were also manufactured with asbestos-containing parts, including gaskets, sheet, and packing. Those asbestos parts too were expected to be replaced periodically. Both Westinghouse and Foster Wheeler had argued in their motion for summary judgment that the U.S. Navy was in full control of any maintenance, repair, or overhaul of the ship and further dedicated the type of material that needed to be installed or replaced on the vessel.  As a result, both Westinghouse and Foster Wheeler argued that they did not have a duty to warn for asbestos-containing parts manufactured by third parties.

A New York state appellate court recently upheld the verdict in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a widower on behalf of his deceased wife who claimed that the defendant in the case was responsible for her diagnosis of terminal cancer caused by exposure to mesothelioma. The defendant, Federal Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, as Successor to Felt Products Manufacturers, had appealed the jury’s award at trial, which handed down a substantial $75 million verdict on behalf of the plaintiff.

The lawsuit against the entity representing Felt Products Manufacturers, filed in a New York City Asbestos Court, claimed that the victim developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos containing Fel-Pro gaskets manufactured by the defendant. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claimed that the victim regularly helped her husband remove and change asbestos containing engine gaskets from their vehicles and from taking her and her husband’s dusty clothes into their laundry room to clean.

The jury hearing the case at trial awarded damages of $50 million to the victim for pain and suffering, $40 million for past and $10 million for future; and $25 million to her husband for loss of consortium, $15 million for past, $10 million for future. In appealing that award, the defendant asserted that it was excessive and was unwarranted based on the evidence presented at trial. In hearing the appeal, the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York vastly reduced the amount of the award, to $12 million for past and $4 million for future pain and suffering for the victim; and for loss of services to $1 million for past, and $250,000 for future damages for her husband.

A Louisiana federal judge recently handed down an important ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by the estate of a man who claimed he developed mesothelioma after previously settling with the defendant over other asbestos-related health claims. In her ruling, the Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Louisiana determined that the victim’s settlement agreement with the defendant, Avondale Shipyards, did not preclude him from bringing his most recent claim alleging that he developed mesothelioma while working at the facility.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit was brought by the victim’s family on his behalf. The victim had passed away in 2018 due to complications with mesothelioma, and his surviving family took up the lawsuit on behalf of his estate. Defense attorneys for Avondale Shipyard had previously sought to have the case remanded to a federal court back in 2018, claiming that the federal officer removal statute required the case to be heard in a federal district court because the company acted under the direction of a federal entity.

This time, Avondale Shipyard pointed to settlement agreements the victim had entered into with no less than 37 entities back in 1991 concerning his asbestosis diagnosis. Asbestos is a long term inflammation and scarring of the lungs due to exposure to asbestos fibers, usually from breathing in the material. Its symptoms may include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. In both lawsuits, the plaintiff alleged that he was exposed to asbestos fibers during the course of his employment at the shipyard, and sought to hold the defendants accountable for each separate health claim.

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.

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