A New York-based minerals and chemical company recently agreed to a settlement during jury deliberations in a Florida state court to resolve an industrial talc mesothelioma cancer lawsuit. While the settlement terms between Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. and the plaintiffs was not disclosed, the plaintiffs’ mesothelioma cancer lawsuit had asked for $11.5 million in total compensation, making the settlement likely in the millions of dollars.
According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in Polk County court, the plaintiff worked for the Florida Tile Company during the 1970s, during which time he claims he used asbestos-laden products produced by Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. The lawsuit claimed that Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. knew about the risks of asbestos exposure from the talc it used in its products but provided no warning to workers about these risks.
The plaintiff alleged that Vanderbilt Mineral, Inc.’s talc came sourced from a mine that had been proven to contain asbestos and that the company manufactured and sold these products to Florida Tile Company during his tenure. Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that can be found in deposits side by side one another. If talc sourcing companies or those processing the mineral do not take precautions to test for asbestos contamination, innocent consumers may suffer from serious health conditions from exposure to the carcinogen.
In their defense at trial, Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. asserted that the victim’s mesothelioma could have been caused by decades of smoking cigarettes or from the asbestos in brake pads he used performing work on his automobile. As for the asbestos from its talc mines, Vanderbilt Minerals, Inc. claimed that the type of asbestos found in the victims’ body tissue is not found in the talc they use to create their products and that there was no convincing evidence that talc itself causes mesothelioma.
Asbestos in talc has become a major area of litigation in mesothelioma cancer lawsuits, with juries across the country awarding billions in total compensation to dozens of victims who claim their use of talc-based products caused their serious health conditions. One of the most infamous defendants in cases like these is pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, which itself is the subject of an estimated 17,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits in state and federal courts.
In what is perhaps not solely a coincidence, companies like Johnson & Johnson and others using talc in their products have begun to shift away from including the mineral. In trials against Johnson & Johnon, jurors have been shown testimony that the company knew for decades about asbestos contamination in its talcum powder but provided no warning to consumers warning them of the known health risks.
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