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Articles Posted in Mesothelioma Court Rulings & Legislation

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against the company between March 1984 and March 2011, including those whose claims were dismissed or voluntarily withdrawn.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.

A Missouri appeals court recently upheld an important talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by almost two dozen plaintiffs who claim their or their loved one’s disease was directly caused by years of using carcinogenic cosmetics products. In its decisions, the Missouri Court of Appeals disagreed with defendant Johnson & Johnson’s defense that its products were safe for use by consumers, and that its iconic Baby Powder has been asbestos-free for decades.

“This trial showed clear and convincing evidence that defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference,” the Missouri Court of Appeals wrote. “Motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers, despite the knowledge that talc in their products caused ovarian cancer.”

Johnson & Johnson had brought the appeal to contest a 2018 trial court verdict in which the jury handed down a then-record breaking $4.64 billion verdict on behalf of the 22 plaintiffs who claimed the company knowingly marketed a dangerous product. Johnson & Johnson, in its appeal, had asserted that the plaintiffs failed to present substantial enough evidence to show that the company acted with the level of negligence necessary to justify such a monumental verdict.

A Virginia federal court recently denied a defendant asbestos company’s bid to dismiss maritime law claims brought by the estate of a deceased plaintiff who claimed the victim developed mesothelioma through years of using carcinogenic asbestos products produced by the defendant. In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia determined that U.S. admiralty law does in fact apply to the case and the matter may proceed based on the allegations of fact there in.

The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit alleged that during his service in the United States Navy, the victim worked for years doing shipbuilding and repair using asbestos-laden parts manufactured and sold by John Crane, Inc. The plaintiff’s estate elected to file the asbestos cancer claim under U.S. maritime law because his injuries occurred on navigable waters of the country, and therefore entitled to additional benefits and compensation under such statutes.

Court filings indicate that John Crane, Inc. did not necessarily contest that its products in question contained asbestos, or that they may have necessarily caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Instead, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff’s case should be tried under Virginia state law, as they claimed any injuries the plaintiff suffered occurred while the ships he was working on were docked in ports in the state. John Crane, Inc. further argued that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma diagnosis was due to “asbestos work,” which would make it an inappropriate claim to bring under U.S. maritime law.

A New York asbestos court recently struck down a motion by defendants in an asbestos cancer lawsuit which has sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff was a smoker who otherwise ignored health warnings on the packages of cigarettes he smoked. In its decision, the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York soundly rejected the desperate attempt by defendants Viacom Inc. and General Electric Company to avoid liability for the alleged negligence that the plaintiff’s estate claims was directly responsible for the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

The crux of Viacom and General Electric’s motion for summary judgment was that since now deceased plaintiff was a longtime smoker who did not heed the warnings placed on cigarette packages he smoked, the victim therefore would have ignored any warnings the companies would have, but did not, place on their own allegedly carcinogenic asbestos products. In response, the plaintiff’s estate argued that he had not been aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes when he started his habit, but tried repeatedly to quit once he learned of the health risks.

In its decision, the New York Supreme Court called the defendants’ argument “speculative” and that the question of the victim’s credibility to his claims must be left to a jury to decide. The court further found another motion brought by defendants to dismiss claims for punitive damages as unpersuasive, leaving open the possibility that a jury could ultimately award additional damages should they find the companies’ conduct rose to the standards which would warrant such additional compensation.

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.

The family of a Missouri man recently settled an asbestos cancer claim on behalf of his estate. They reached a resolution out of court under the state’s mesothelioma benefits law, which allows employers to pay claims through a group insurance plan. As part of the settlement, the deceased’s estate will recover more than $791,000 in damages in exchange for the plaintiffs dismissing claims against the defendants.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in December, 2018 in the 22nd Judicial Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri, the victim developed a rare form of asbestos-related cancer from years of working with carcinogenic products developed by the defendants. Media reports show that the defendant worked for Central Electric Power Cooperative in Chamois, Missouri, for 17 years ending in 1982. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that his exposure to asbestos laden products occured from 1962 to 1977.

As a result of his years of exposure to products containing asbestos, the defendant was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2017 and sadly passed away while litigation in the case was pending. His surviving family members carried on the claim on his behalf against the defendants, among which included his former employer Central Electric Power Cooperative, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, and a whole host of other industrial companies and others manufacturing products containing asbestos.

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.

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