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Articles Posted in Talcum Powder and Cancer

 A New York Supreme Court recently handed down an important ruling allowing a female plaintiff’s asbestos cancer lawsuit against cosmetics and pharmaceutical company Colgate-Palmolive to continue. The ruling comes after the court made a legal determination that it did in fact have jurisdiction in the case, potentially paving the way for other similar lawsuits in the state to be heard.

According to the lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court for New York County, the victim used talc-based products like Cashmere Bouquet manufactured and sold by Colgate-Palmolive on almost a daily basis in New York from 1979 through 1985. The lawsuit claims the plaintiff sometimes used the products more than once a day, even using so much talcum powder that the room she was in would become dusty, forcing her to sneeze.

The plaintiff claims that the Colgate-Palmolive talcum powder products she used were contaminated is carcinogenic asbestos and that she developed a serious form of lung cancer as a result of the asbestos exposure. The asbestos cancer lawsuit goes on to claim that despite knowing fully well about the potential dangers its talc-based products could pose to innocent consumers, the company decided against placing any warning labels alluding to the risks, including developing mesothelioma.

A New York City jury recently returned a substantial award in an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit brought by a woman who claims her rare and deadly form of cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos fibers in the talc-based products she used for decades. The lawsuit named pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson as the defendant and alleged that the company knew for decades about the presence of carcinogens in its talcum powder products but provided no warning.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in New York City Supreme Court, the now 66-year-old plaintiff developed cancer from using talc-based products produced by Johnson & Johnson. Jurors hearing the case had already found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding the victim and her husband $25 million in compensatory damages for the couple’s economic damages as well as their pain and suffering from the wife’s mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

This latest award included $300 million in punitive damages, a special type of compensation juries may sometimes be allowed to hand down in situations in which plaintiffs can demonstrate that the defendants were egregiously negligent in their conduct. Punitive damages are meant as a means to send a message and deter other similarly negligent conduct and protect the public.

A New York state jury recently handed down a substantial $25 million verdict in favor of a plaintiff who claims she developed an asbestos-related cancer after decades of using talcum powder products manufactured and sold by pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson. The award includes compensatory damages for the victim’s medical bills and lost wages as well as the pain and suffering of living with the disease as well as damages for the plaintiff’s husband.

According to the lawsuit, filed in 2017 in New York City Supreme Court, the plaintiff used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower almost daily from the time she was 8 years old until after she was married. Her attorneys claimed she developed mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos fibers in the talc.

In addition to the $25 million in compensatory damages, jurors will decide what if any punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiffs. Punitive damages are a special type of award which courts may allow juries to hand down in cases in which plaintiffs have demonstrated that the level of misconduct by the defendants was so egregious that it warrants such damages as to deter other parties from acting in a similarly negligent manner.

A recent report by Reuters news appears to suggest that while pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, the company continued to market and specifically target female minority communities. The revelations come after Johnson & Johnson settled two asbestos cancer lawsuits, one in Oklahoma and the other in California, during the middle of trial and settled another in New York just two-weeks before the start of proceedings.

According to the report, the “right place” to focus, according to a 2006 internal J&J marketing presentation, was “under-developed geographical areas with hot weather, and higher AA population,” the “AA” referring to African-Americans. Reuters also points out that Johnson & Johnson marketing executives sought to target overweight women, going as far as to request a significant increase in marketing funds over previous years to target overweight persons.

Since the 1970s, adults have been the main consumers of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products after pediatricians began to warn of the dangers to infants who inhale talc. By the mid-2000s, adults have accounted for over 90% of Baby Powder sales after Johnson & Johnson targeted its marketing efforts at a variety of demographics, including teens, the elderly, minority, and overweight females.

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.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently filed paperwork to have a Delaware federal judge consolidate thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits against one-time co-defendant Imerys Talc USA. If the judge were to grant the request, thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson would be removed from state courts across the country where plaintiffs have accused Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc USA of knowingly producing and marketing a carcinogenic product without any warning to consumers.

Imerys Talc USA, Johnson & Johnson’s long-time talc supplier, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits in which it was named co-defendant with Johnson & Johnson. While Johnson & Johnson has not filed for the same protections itself, the company seeks consolidation of Imerys cases through a special bankruptcy law provision which allows creditors with significant financial ties to the talc miner to make the request to promote “expeditious resolution of claims.”

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 13,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country, with over 10,000 consolidated in before a federal judge in New Jersey for pre-trial information exchanges. Were the pharmaceutical company to prevail in its motion before the Delaware judge, Johnson & Johnson would have effectively removed almost all of its claims from state courts where juries have handed down substantial plaintiffs verdicts.

Just weeks after a California jury handed down a substantial $29 million plaintiff’s verdict, Johnson & Johnson has settled three other talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits with victims and families. Those and other lawsuits against the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant claim that plaintiffs developed serious health conditions, including mesothelioma and other cancers, due to years of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

The most recent case was settled in Oklahoma, just hours after an Oklahoma City-jury began its deliberations into whether or not Johnson & Johnson’s Baby powder was a contributing factor in a 77-year-old victim’s development of peritoneal mesothelioma. On the same day, Johnson & Johnson settled another talcum powder cancer lawsuit in the middle of a trial brought by a 36-year-old who claimed she too developed mesothelioma from years of using talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company.

The third settlement involved a New York asbestos cancer lawsuit slated to begin this month. The settlements are a rare occurrence in the history of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder lawsuit litigation as the company has typically chosen to litigate these types of cases until the end, rather than negotiate with plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 13,000 additional asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country accusing the company of causing various types of cancer.

After a year that saw juries hand down a number of substantial plaintiffs verdicts in asbestos cancer lawsuits, pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson and its supplier Imerys Talc USA are slated to see their highest number of such cases over the next 12 months. Imerys has already collapsed and filed for bankruptcy protection under the mounting legal and financial trouble.  After a St. Louis jury handed down a $4.69 billion verdict to 22 female plaintiffs in 2019, this year could pose even more legal and financial trouble for the companies, with the group scheduled to defendant their actions in front of three times as many juries than the previous year.

Four trials scheduled in 2019 will take place in the same Missouri state court where jurors handed down their multi-billion dollar verdict and several more will take place in venues considered to be friendly to plaintiffs. One trial in August has 38 plaintiffs, setting the stage for potentially an even larger verdict than before. Since cases began going to trial in 2016, juries in California, New Jersey, and Missouri have handed down more than $5 billion in compensation to asbestos exposure victims.

An estimated 12,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits remain outstanding and some legal experts believe it could cost Johnson & Johnson as much as $20 billion to settle all the claims and avoid any further trials. A recent Reuters report detailed allegations that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, but did nothing to warn consumers about the risks, even going as far as to provide misleading information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s.

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.

In the midst of thousands of lawsuits claiming plaintiffs developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious health conditions, federal regulators and Congress have issued subpoenas to pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to seek answers over whether or not the company’s talc-based products pose a risk to the public. Executives for Johnson & Johnson recently revealed the company has received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and a member of the U.S. Senate seeking information about the health risks of talcum powder products.

Revelations came in a Form 10-k securities filing in which Johnson & Johnson admitted to receiving the records requests and claimed to be fully cooperating with federal investigators looking into the dangers of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Johnson & Johnson was rocked at the end of 2018 by Reuters reporting that analyzed thousands of pages of internal company documents that appeared to show executives with the corporation knew for decades about positive tests for carcinogens in its talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces approximately 13,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country from women and men who claim they developed deadly forms of cancer from years of exposure to carcinogens in the products. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, face dozens of trials in several states which could open the company to potentially billions in liability if juries continue to hand down substantial plaintiffs verdicts as they had in 2018.

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