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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.

Despite state courts not having to deal with asbestos cancer lawsuits for quite some time, the New Hampshire state senate is poised to introduced proposed legislation that could seriously limit the legal rights of mesothelioma cancer victims. If passed, the proposed law would put New Hampshire in a group of over one dozen states that have passed so-called transparency acts aimed at slowing the pace of litigation and forcing plaintiffs to take legal steps they otherwise would not be obliged to.

In studying the issue, the New Hampshire state senate has created a study committee to “review the current compensation system specific to asbestos litigation and study ways to promote transparency, fairness, and timeliness of payment in the asbestos litigation system in New Hampshire.” Specifically, the study committee will look into whether or not mesothelioma cancer victims should be required to explore alternative avenues for compensation for their injuries.

Additionally, many of the asbestos tort reform bills being circulated around states legislatures require plaintiffs to disclose to courts whether or not they have filed claims for compensation from any asbestos administrative trusts in addition to filing a formal lawsuit. Many of the largest asbestos companies were required to create trusts for asbestos cancer victims to file claims as part of the business’ release of liability to file for federal bankruptcy protections.

We know the harmful effects that asbestos can have on people who have been exposed to it, breathing in the airborne fibers, and developing serious and likely fatal health ailments decades down the road.

Construction workers, machinists, firefighters, auto mechanics and power plant workers who often work with asbestos-related products may be more susceptible to asbestos-related illnesses. So can the typical family who may live in a house built before the 1980s as many such structures were made with asbestos-containing materials.

Infants: ‘Not likely to be exposed’

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgA Michigan woman recently filed an asbestos cancer lawsuit against a slew of defendants claiming the companies are responsible for her husband’s lung cancer diagnosis, which she claims is a direct result of coming in contact with asbestos-contaminated products produced by the defendants. The plaintiff’s lawsuit states that she became widowed in October of 2016 after her husband lost his battle with the deadly asbestos-related lung cancer he developed while working with the defendant’s defective products from the 1960’s to early 2010’s.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court in Illinois, claims that defendants like Arvinmeritor Inc., A.W. Chesterton Co., CBS Corp., Certain-Teed Corp., and Colfax Corp. continued to produce asbestos laden products despite safer alternatives being available. Furthermore, the claim charges that the defendants knew for decades about the health risks their products posed but chose not to alter their designs or inform users about the dangers.

For decades, companies like the defendants named in the asbestos cancer lawsuit developed their asbestos products knowing full well that the small fibers could result in serious, if not deadly, medical condition. However, despite the insider knowledge, many unscrupulous companies continued to use asbestos in their commercial and industrial applications due to its cheap cost and heat resistant properties. It was not until the mid-1970’s the federal government stepped in and formally regulated the sale and manufacture of the product.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock-526953477.jpgA recent report in the African Independent indicates Zimbabwe is poised to reopen two asbestos mines shuttered almost a decade ago, citing growing domestic and international demand for the chrysotile asbestos, a type of white asbestos popular in many industrial applications. Government officials hope the reopening of sites at Shabanie and Mashava in southern Zimbabwe could bring the African nation back to the top of worldwide asbestos production where it once ranked sixth behind nations like Russia, India, and Kazakhstan.

At their peak, the two mines produced an estimated 140,000 tons annually and about 300,000 jobs for the nation, resulting in a $40 million influx of foreign currency. Officials expect the reopened mines to create 100,000 jobs in the asbestos industry as part of hundreds of millions of foreign investment for infrastructure and industry projects. However, the economic benefits could come with a huge human cost to mine the cancer causing mineral and spur economic growth in the troubled nation.

Every year in the U.S., thousands of people receive a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis from their doctor, an otherwise rare disease commonly associate with asbestos exposure. For many decades, domestic companies utilized asbestos in a variety of applications due to its heat resistant properties. Some industries associated with asbestos laden products include welding and pipe fitting in nuclear reactors and Navy vessels, auto parts manufacturing, and construction.

Thumbnail image for talcumpowderasbestoscontamination.jpgAfter numerous legal objections and obstruction by defense attorneys, an asbestos cancer victim’s trial against a talc-based product manufacturer appears poised to finally see a courtroom to determine what, if any, damages the plaintiff should receive as compensation for the defendant’s negligence. The high-profile case claims Johnson & Johnson’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer because the product contained asbestos, a flaky white mineral once widely used in many industrial applications.

The asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, alleges that the plaintiff used the defendant’s talc-based products daily from 1954 to 1970 and developed the deadly lung cancer as a direct result. According to reports, the case will be the first time a Pennsylvania court takes up hard scientific issues over causation between using cosmetic talc-products and developing mesothelioma from talcum powder use.

However, this is not the first talcum powder-asbestos cancer case to go all the way to trial, with juries in New Jersey, California, and New York awarding plaintiffs multi-million dollar verdicts to compensate them for the negligence of talcum powder suppliers and cosmetics companies. Other juries have hit Johnson & Johnson with massive plaintiffs verdicts finding the pharmaceutical and cosmetic company liable for victims’ ovarian cancer caused by the talcum powder itself.

Sen. Ray Albright, a 26-year veteran in the Tennessee state legislature, recently passed away at the age of 83 after a battle with mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that typically affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding the lungs and abdomen. Sen. Albright first won election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1968, running on a strong environmental platform dedicated to cleaning up air pollution in Chattanooga, known at the time as having the worst air pollution in the state.

Sen. Albright won election to the state Senate in 1970 and became well known for co-sponsoring a bill to put a community college in Chattanooga. Albright grew up in a modest household and valued education as a means for people to advance their careers and improve their lives. Colleagues remembered him as an effective legislator who was well liked. After leaving politics in 1994, Sen. Albright went to work for health care provider Blue Cross in its relations department.

Sen. Albright announced his mesothelioma cancer diagnosis in November of 2016. He disclosed that he likely contracted the disease sometime in the 1950s or 1960s after being exposed to asbestos while working at an engineering plant for Combustion Engineering. The engineering firm owned and operated a boiler manufacturer in Chattanooga as well as many other facilities engaged in many activities associated with asbestos exposure.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgA jury in Portland, Oregon recently handed down a significant verdict in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a man with lung cancer and his wife who claim that gasket maker John Crane Inc. knew its products contained deadly asbestos fibers but did nothing to prevent exposure to the substance. The jury awarded the plaintiffs approximately $5.4 million as compensation for medical bills, loss of consortium, lost income, and punitive damages to punish John Crane Inc. and deter other powerful companies from putting the public at risk.

The 75-year-old plaintiff and his wife claimed he suffered from asbestos exposure while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1960 to 1964 and that John Crane Inc. was the company responsible for manufacturing the insulation used onboard the vessel. Asbestos was once widely used in such military applications, particularly in ship building, due to its heat resistant and malleable properties.

Furthermore, the plaintiff claims he again suffered asbestos exposure while working as a pipefitter from 1965 to 1987 in Oregon and Massachusetts with many asbestos-contaminated products. The victim argued John Crane Inc. manufactured the pipe gaskets and packing material he came in contact with on a daily basis and did so using asbestos despite knowing full well about the risks of developing cancer from asbestos.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for NaitonwideMesotheliomaAttorney_ThroneberryLawGroup.jpgItalian researchers from the University of of Salento in Lecce recently published findings from their study of a potentially groundbreaking mesothelioma cancer treatment that could drastically improve the prognosis of patients with what is considered to be one of the more difficult types of cancer to treat. The study researched how well lab rats with particular mesothelioma tumors responded to two experimental drugs, Ptac2S and cisplatin, and whether either of the two treatments could potentially translate into benefits for human patients.

Sarcomatous mesothelioma, also known as diffuse malignant fibrous and spindled mesothelioma, is one of the less common forms of the disease, affecting an estimated 7 to 20% of mesothelioma cancer patients. Diagnosis is often more difficult with this particular form of the disease as the tumor cells tend to mimic other types of benign and deadly cancers under traditional diagnostic methods like x-rays, CT scans, and MRI.

The results of the study were promising, with injections of Ptac2S reducing tumor growth by 50% and shrinking tumor mass by 53%. On the other hand, lab rats treated with cisplatin reduced tumor size by 12%, a significantly smaller impact than Ptac2S but still positive treatment option. The results of Ptac2S treatments from the Italian study reinforce previous research showing the drug to be 12 times more effective at fighting certain cancer cells than cisplatin.

powerplant.jpgAn asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a 73-year-old former Duke Energy technician recently went to trial in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In this case, the mesothelioma plaintiff alleges that the defendants, several energy equipment manufacturers, utilized asbestos-tainted products that caused the plaintiff’s cancer. The plaintiff alleges that although his employer, Duke Energy, took proactive steps to mitigate the risk of mesothelioma and other serious diseases, the defendants, Fisher Controls International LLC and Crosby Controls International LLC, supplied asbestos-tainted gaskets for pipe valves.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff began working for Duke Energy in 1979 as a pipefitter in its various nuclear facilities in South Carolina before retiring as an ultrasonic quality control inspector in 2003. The plaintiff claims he suffered from asbestos exposure during final inspections of gaskets and pipe valves. The plaintiff’s start date at the facility is of particular importance in the trial, as asbestos has been heavily regulated and designated a known carcinogen since the mid-1970s.

As is often the case in asbestos cancer lawsuits, the defendants claim that although the plaintiff’s mesothelioma was most likely caused by asbestos exposure, the dangerously designed and manufactured products were not the cause of the disease. The counterclaims are an all too common example of the lengths many powerful asbestos manufacturers often go to avoid taking responsibility for producing such dangerous products, knowing all the while doing so put innocent people at risk.

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