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Articles Posted in Talcum Powder and Cancer

A California-based cosmetics company recently initiated a recall of four of its makeup products over asbestos-contamination concerns. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers are advised to immediately cease using four products produced by Beauty Plus Global Inc after testing  by the FDA revealed those items showed asbestos contamination. Those products in the company’s City Color makeup range are:

  • Matte blush (fuchsia);
  • Cosmetics timeless beauty palette;

A New Jersey federal judge held key evidentiary hearings in coordinated pretrial proceedings covering thousands of asbestos talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson through the process of multidistrict litigation (MDL). Lawsuits involved in MDL allow both sides to conduct common discovery in cases to apply rules at trial which will apply at trial for all the individual cases, a procedure which may benefit both plaintiffs and defendants depending on the judge’s rulings.

Of particular importance to the pretrial MDL hearings in the asbestos cancer lawsuits are the expert witnesses identified by the plaintiffs to testify at trial. Those expert witnesses include biologists, physicians and epidemiologists who have concluded there is scientific evidence that talc use can cause ovarian cancer. Back in May 2019, Johnson & Johnson asked the federal judge overseeing the MDL process to exclude the opinions of 22 expert witnesses retained by the plaintiff on the grounds these individuals “they misapply scientific principles” and “engage in unsupported leaps of logic.”

Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson have said in media interviews that an exclusion of some or all of the plaintiffs’ witnesses along with a judge’s ruling there is insufficient evidence of causation to present to any jury would wipe out the majority of the cases before they could see a courtroom. On the other hand, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have asked the judge to deny Johnson & Johnson’s request, arguing their expert witnesses are qualified and rely on sound methodologies to reach their opinions.

A federal judge recently denied a request by pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to transfer thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits from various state courts under one single federal court. The move comes after Johnson & Johnson’s one-time co-defendant and talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, declared bankruptcy in the face of an estimated 14,000 other asbestos cancer lawsuits filed against the pair over allegations the two produced carcinogenic talc-based products for decades.

Johnson & Johnson had asked a Delaware federal district court judge to transfer some 2,400 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits to her court in the wake of co-defendant Imerys filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Had Johnson & Johnson been granted the motion, the company would have been able to conduct common discovery on the asbestos cancer lawsuits under a unified jurisdiction, potentially giving the company more leverage to settle or otherwise resolve the claims.

“The judges in the states who are already handling these cases are better suited to hear the claims before them than is this Court, which would have to hear thousands of cases and apply different state laws to each,” the federal judge said. The judge’s ruling noted her federal court did not have the authority over the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson due to the fact that the company’s co-defendant filed for bankruptcy in that court and that it failed to establish the lawsuits against it affect Imerys and the bankruptcy proceedings.

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 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.

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