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Articles Posted in Mesothelioma Court Rulings & Legislation

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.

An Illinois state appeals court recently upheld a substantial $4.6 million verdict in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit brought by a union pipefitter who worked with products manufactured by John Crane, Inc. during the 1950s. In its ruling, the First District Appellate Court determined the trial court was right to allow the plaintiff’s attorneys to present expert testimony showing the victim’s asbestos cancer diagnosis was a result of exposure to asbestos fibers while working with John Crane products.

In his lawsuit, the plaintiff testified that he suffered from significant asbestos exposure from valves and gaskets, including those manufactured by the defendant. At trial, the plaintiff’s expert witness testified that the products manufactured by John Crane were a substantial contributing factor to the victim’s mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. Defense attorneys harped on testimony by this expert for the plaintiffs in which he explained the nuances in the relationship between asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma cancer.

Additionally, the defendant took issue with the jury instructions given to the panel to help them reach a decision during their deliberations. These jury instructions are a standard part of our judicial system and both inform the jury of the legal standards for reaching a verdict and how they must apportion responsibility in civil cases. John Crane’s attorneys had asked the judge to give the jurors specialized jury instructions pattered for the particular case, though the trial judge determined that the Illinois state pattern instructions were sufficient.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will host a public forum discussing the methods used to test for asbestos fibers in talc-based products, as well as the terminology and criteria that can be used to measure the carcinogen in consumer products. During that forum, the FDA will discuss preliminary recommendations from the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products (IWGAC)—an interagency working group formed in 2018 to support the development of standardized testing methods for asbestos and other harmful particles.

The purpose of the IWGAC is to address the terminology and definitions of asbestos, recommend improvements for measuring asbestos in talc-based products, and recommend testing standards to test these products. The FDA forum comes two-years after the agency first began investigating reports of asbestos in talcum powder products, during which time it tested 50 such products and confirmed the presence of asbestos in some. One of those examinations in October 2019 revealed the presence of asbestos fibers in a lot of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which caused the company to voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the iconic product.

Specifically, the IWGAC recommends adopting the term elongate mineral particles (EMP) to be “any mineral particle with a minimum aspect ratio of 3:1,” as to resolve ambiguity and disagreement of asbestos vs non-asbestos identification. Testing laboratories report all EMP having a length of over 500 nm and that testing methods specify reportable EMP identified as certain types of asbestos.

A group of Wisconsin prison inmates recently filed a lawsuit over allegations the plaintiffs are suffering asbestos exposure almost daily due to the facility and state’s negligent management of the institution. According to the federal asbestos lawsuit, 10 inmates at the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution say the prison is exposing inmates and workers to dangerous levels of black mold, asbestos, and lead-contaminated water.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, the asbestos lawsuit claims the prisoner-plaintiffs suffered continuous exposure to asbestos and asbestos-related materials such as lead, lead filings, radium, and rust particles in the prison’s water supply. The lawsuit further claims that the plaintiffs suffered arbitrary denial of access to sanitary cleaning supplies to prevent the spread of disease and bacteria.

The suit seeks about $5 million in damages, as well as an emergency investigation and testing of all buildings at the prison, and evacuation of all inmates and staff from the facility. The latter demand for emergency transfers to minimum-security correctional facilities comes in the form of a preliminary injunction and restraining order filed by the inmates. It is unclear if the group has outside legal counsel in the asbestos cancer lawsuit.

A federal judge in San Francisco recently allowed a lawsuit to continue against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging the agency fails to properly track how much deadly asbestos is imported, manufactured, and otherwise used in products in the United States. Several advocacy groups filed the asbestos lawsuit against the EPA in February 2019, challenging the agencies decision to allow certain exemptions to reporting rules for asbestos products, and the agency’s decision to deny a petition to impose stricter reporting requirements on companies dealing in asbestos.

“EPA has greatly overstated its knowledge of asbestos use and exposure in the United States,” the advocacy groups, now plaintiffs, wrote in a letter to the EPA back in January 2019 in which they urged the agency to reconsider its decision. “This decision gives us the green light to press ahead with our suit to hold EPA accountable for refusing to require simple and straightforward reporting by the asbestos industry,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, one of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against the EPA.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the American Public Health Association, the Center for Environmental Health, the Environmental Working Group, the Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. A spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group released a statement saying “EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s efforts to keep the public in the dark about where and how asbestos is being used in this country is antithetical to what the American people should expect from the head of the EPA.”

A New Jersey Superior Court judge recently denied a motion by the defendant in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit which sought to set aide a multimillion dollar verdict handed down by a state jury to a group of plaintiffs who claimed they developed serious forms of cancer due to asbestos fibers in talc-based products produced by the defendant. That lawsuit claimed pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products for years, without any warnings to consumers about the known risks of asbestos exposure.

In September 2019, a Middlesex County, New Jersey jury handed down a $37.3 million verdict to four plaintiffs who claimed they developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of using talc-based products, such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, produced by Johnson & Johnson. That trial took place in the city of Brunswick, New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson’s corporate headquarters is located. The company faces thousands of other such lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country.

Johnson & Johnson’s post-trial motion, which the judge recently denied, had asked the judge to set aside the trial court’s verdict on a multitude of legal grounds. However, that motion was denied by the judge on the grounds that the proceedings in the case had not yet concluded, as the jury’s $37.3 million award only included damages for lost wages, medical bills, other monetary damages, and pain and suffering. The case is set to enter a new phase relatively soon, as the jury will decide what, if any, punitive damages Johnson & Johnson will be required to pay the victims.

With the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, California recently passed a law aimed at protecting mesothelioma cancer victims during the fact-gathering stage of an asbestos cancer lawsuit. The bill, SB 645, would limit the number of hours defendants would be able to question plaintiffs under oath in cases where plaintiffs can demonstrate to the courts that they have less than six months to live.

SB 645 places a seven-hour limitation on defendants’ deposition examination (where attorneys question witnesses under oath) in cases in which a licensed physician provides the court with a written declaration stating that the plaintiff has mesothelioma and there is substantial doubt whether he or she will live longer than six months. In cases in which there are more than 10 defendants named in the lawsuit, defendants may request an additional three hours of deposition testimony, and an additional seven hours of testimony if more than 20 defendants are involved in the lawsuit.

The law allows the courts to grant those time extensions in cases in which such an extension is in the interest of fairness, and the health of the plaintiff would not be endangered by the additional testimony time. The law’s passage with the governor’s signature is welcome news for mesothelioma cancer victims who are often subjected to hours and hours of intense questioning by defense attorneys, all while the plaintiff’s health is in decline while batting the serious form of cancer.

A New Jersey state jury recently handed down a $2.38 million plaintiff’s verdict in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he developed mesothelioma cancer from years of exposure to asbestos shipped to his workplace by the defendant. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit named Union Carbide as the defendant, and was eventually carried on by the victim’s widow after he succumbed to the disease which he claimed was caused by the defendant’s negligence.

The road to justice was a long one for the victim and his widow, originally filing the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit in June 2011. Years later in 2015, the judge hearing the case granted summary judgement to Union Carbide after the company argued that the plaintiff failed to acquire enough evidence showing the victim worked directly with asbestos-contaminated products produced by the defendant.

Asbestos is directly linked with developing a rare and deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. The disease commonly affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and abdomen. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma and the disease often takes decades to show symptoms, leaving patients with diminished treatment options by the time a diagnosis is made.

A New York City judge recently handed down an important ruling in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit brought by a former electrician who claims the defendant, a boiler manufacturer, caused his mesothelioma by exposing him to deadly asbestos fibers. The lawsuit names Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Burnham LLC as the defendant, alleging the company knowingly produced and shipped products that required after-market parts made with asbestos, specifically asbestos-cement used as an insulation for the equipment.

The plaintiff, now unfortunately deceased, claimed in his lawsuit that during his time as an electrician with his employer, Vanderlin Electrical Contractors, he frequently worked with boilers manufactured by Burnham LLC. The victim claimed that the units delivered by the defendant to his job site at Wesleyan College without the required insulation “jacket” and that insulation workers also on site had to mix asbestos cement to create the insulation needed to complete installation.

Furthermore, the plaintiff, in his sworn deposition testimony before his passing, recalled he was required to remove the very same asbestos insulation on the boilers in order to access valves on the boilers, and would breathe in the dust created during both the application and removal of the insulation. As a result of years of exposure to asbestos fibers in the course of working on boilers produced by Burnham LLC, the plaintiff claimed he developed mesothelioma cancer, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure.

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