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Less than a year after being hit with an asbestos exposure lawsuit by city employees, the City of San Diego continues to grapple with the safety of its municipal workplaces and the health and safety of those employed by the city. The latest issues with the city stem from asbestos abatement in buildings owned or occupied by the city, and whether the city rushed both the abatement process and moving workers back into the renovated space before it was safe.

According to local media reports, the City of San Diego began moving city employees into a downtown building with several documented asbestos violations, which were discovered by the county’s Air Pollution Control District in the summer of 2019. One of those violations read in part, “Specifically, visible emissions were found on various floors inside the building that were exposed to the outside air.” City employees began moving into the building at 101 Ash Street in December 2019 — 1,100 in total according to local news stations.

Documented air pollution violations continued even after city employees moved into the building. The latest occurred the day after Christmas, just under two weeks after city workers moved in. While city officials continued to insist the building was safe, public outcry eventually led to those workers being evacuated and the premises closed to the public. The asbestos-related issues for the city continued.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released the sixth and final part of its year-long sampling assignment of testing talc-based cosmetics products for asbestos contamination, which was performed by an outside laboratory. Those testing services were performed by Lanham, Maryland-based AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA) and commenced in September 2018. AMA was selected because of its expertise and knowledge in asbestos testing, as well as having conducted a previous successful survey for the FDA.

The FDA contracted AMA to test talc-based cosmetics products such as makeup and Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which were selected and purchased by the FDA and provided to the laboratory as blinded samples. During the course of its testing, AMA found that nine of the 43 samples provided tested positive for asbestos contamination, including one lot of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was recalled in October 2019. Other cosmetics products which tested positive for asbestos included makeup produced and sold by Claire’s and City Color, some of which have been recalled.

The FDA selected the various products based on criteria such as the type of talc-based product, range of price, prevalence on social media and other advertisements, whether it was marketed as a children’s product, and whether the FDA had received third-party reports of asbestos contamination in the particular product. AMA’s testing procedures utilized Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) to detect and quantify mineral particles which were suspected to perhaps be asbestos fibers. According to the FDA, TEM is the most sensitive testing method for detecting and quantifying asbestos minerals.

The Philadelphia school system recently agreed to a settlement in an asbestos cancer lawsuit with a long time teacher who claimed she developed a serious form of asbestos-related cancer as a result of working in dangerous conditions in the school system. As part of the settlement, the 30-year special education teacher will receive a total of $850,000 dollars to compensate her for her lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering of living with the disease.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in September 2019 in a Pennsylvania court in Philadelphia, the plaintiff worked in two 90-year-old, dilapidated school buildings with damaged asbestos pipe insulation. The plaintiff’s lawsuit recalls an instance where she came in direct contact with crumbling asbestos pieces, which she claims was one of the instances in which she was exposed to the deadly carcinogen which caused her mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. The plaintiff had hoped to continue working for at least another seven years but has been forced into retirement while she contemplates her treatment options moving forward in order to fight the disease.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and was once commonly used in a variety of industrial, construction, and military applications due to its heat resistant properties and ability to be shaped to fit a variety of needs, particularly in insulation for pipes. However, asbestos is also carcinogenic and is directly linked to developing mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Mesothelioma is often not diagnosed until decades after exposure, which often leaves patients with diminished treatment options to fight the disease.

A New Jersey state jury recently handed down a substantial $750 million verdict to plaintiffs during the punitive damages phase of the trial after already handing down a multimillion dollar verdict on the victim’s behalf during the main phase of the trial last year. The four victorious plaintiffs brought their talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit against New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company knowingly sold cosmetics products containing deadly carcinogens.

In September 2109, a Middlesex County jury handed down a $37.3 million verdict on behalf of the plaintiffs after a nearly two-month trial, during which time they were presented with compelling testimony detailing Johnson & Johnson’s decades long knowledge about the possibility of asbestos contamination in its iconic Baby Powder. The cosmetic product is made from talc, one of the softest known minerals, and used in a variety of other products including Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs told jurors how the plaintiffs developed various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Jurors were presented with internal Johnson & Johnson documents which showed executives knew as far back as the 1970s that its talc-based products were testing positive for deadly asbestos fibers.

Multinational cosmetics company Revlon Inc. was recently hit with a talc asbestos cancer lawsuit over allegations that the company used asbestos-contaminated talc in its cosmetics products, which caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. The lawsuit was brought by a Maryland couple in New York state court and seeks tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages as well as damages for the emotional damages suffered by the victim’s husband.

According to the asbestos talcum powder lawsuit, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma from using Jean Nate Silkening Body Powder and other Revlon products that her father provided for her while she was growing up. The victim claims that those products contained talc, a mineral often used in consumer cosmetics products, which was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos fibers. The lawsuit alleges that Revlon, along with chemicals distributor Whittaker Clark & Daniels Inc., failed to warn consumers about the risks associated with exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc.

The victim’s asbestos cancer lawsuit seeks $20 million in compensatory damages for medical bills and pain and suffering, $40 million in punitive damages for what she claims is especially negligent conduct on the part of the defendants, and an additional $5 million in damages for her husband for his mental anguish and loss of companionship as a result of his wife’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

The National Institutes of Health recently bestowed a five-year $2.6 million grant to researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center to examine the role that certain genes may play in asbestos-related cancer and whether certain cell mutations may play a role in the survival of patients. The research team will be led by esteemed researchers Michele Cabrone and Haining Yang and look into the role of the BAP1 gene in human cancer development and cell metabolism.

“This grant adds to our two already funded NIH grants and one grant from the Department of Defense, confirming the leadership of the Hawaii team as the top federally-funded research team in the U.S. to conduct research on mesothelioma, a cancer developed frequently in those exposed to asbestos,” said Carbone.

Carbone is distinguished for his discovery of the role that genes play in mesothelioma while studying a cancer epidemic in remote villages of Turkey. He and Yang further collaborated by studying mesothelioma genetics by conducting studies of families in the United States who have a high incidence of cancer, during which time they discovered a condition the pair termed “BAP1 cancer syndrome.”

On behalf of the state of New Mexico, Attorney General Hector Balderas recently filed suit against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson over claims that the company knew for decades about the risks posed by using its talc-based products but continued to market the product to consumers. The talcum powder lawsuit further alleges that Johnson & Johnson systematically targeted minority women in its advertising and marketing campaigns of its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products and misled them and others about the safety of the products.

According to Attorney General Balderas, Johnson & Johnson “concealed and failed to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their talc products,” among which can include such diseases like lung disease, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer which commonly affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The legal action by the state of New Mexico is just the latest in a series of claims brought against Johnson & Johnson, which currently faces an estimated 17,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs who claim their serious health conditions were caused by decades of talc use.

Thus far, jurors in state courts from California, Missouri, and New Jersey have handed down a over $5 billion in compensation to dozens of plaintiffs who claim they suffered irreparable harm at the hands of Johnson & Johnson. In the wake of these lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson’s long-time talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA filed for bankruptcy under the weight of litigation and its liability for its role in these and other plaintiffs’ talcum powder asbestos cancer diagnosis.

A group of seven California plaintiffs recently signaled their intention to a federal court to refile their talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson in order to include additional defendants who may be at fault for causing their asbestos-related conditions. The federal district court judge hearing the case granted plaintiffs their motion to dismiss the case and include plaintiffs such as Claire’s and Valeant Pharmaceuticals over those companies’ negligence for not placing appropriate warning labels on their products.

The plaintiffs sought the request after the judge hearing the case disallowed the group to make any further amendments to the complaint originally filed only against Johnson & Johnson over claims that it negligently marketed its talc-based products such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The plaintiffs originally filed their complaint in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming that the group developed serious, asbestos-related medical conditions as a result of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc products.

The judge hearing the case allowed the group to dismiss their claims, without prejudice, with the added condition that they pay for the legal fees incurred by Johnson & Johnson in the first iteration of the lawsuit. However, the judge cautioned Johnson & Johnson against “overlawyering” in an attempt to inflate the costs of the case as a retaliatory measure against the plaintiffs. The federal judge himself will decide the total amount of legal fees owed to Johnson & Johnson.

A Hawaii woman recently filed an asbestos cancer lawsuit against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson and local grocer Foodland Supermarket Ltd. alleging that the defendants are responsible for her mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claims Johnson & Johnson knowingly produced and marketed talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, which the company knew were contaminated with deadly carcinogens but did not provide any warning to consumers on the label.

According to the asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit, filed in Honolulu Circuit Court, the 64-year-old plaintiff developed malignant mesothelioma after years of using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products produced by Johnson & Johnson and sold by Foodland Supermarkets. The plaintiff, who is also an equine chiropractor, claims she frequently used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products in the course of her work caring for horses.

The asbestos talcum powder lawsuit filing comes less than a month after Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall for certain lots of of its Baby Powder product after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that those certain lots of Baby Powder tested positive for cancerous asbestos fibers. While Johnson & Johnson claims subsequent testing showed no positive tests for asbestos, a Wall Street Journal report revealed flaws in the initial testing the company conducted after it appeared to rush those independent tests.

The once long-time talc supplier for pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson is reportedly considering selling its North American operations, among other strategic alternatives to restructure the company after a difficult year in the courts. Earlier this year, Imerys Talc USA filed for bankruptcy under the weight of thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits in which it was enjoined with Johnson & Johnson, many of which produced multimillion dollar verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs.

The Paris-based company plans to work with a group of investment bank advisors on its next moves, according to a Reuters report on the subject. Any sale or restructure of the company would likely need a  federal court’s approval, as the company faces potentially billions of dollars in liabilities linked to the estimated 14,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits it faces with Johnson & Johnson.

2019 has been an especially difficult year for Imerys Talc USA. In February, Imerys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware federal court, a few months after juries across the country handed down over $5 billion in total damages to plaintiffs who named Imerys Talc USA and Johnson & Johnson as defendants in asbestos cancer lawsuits. In May 2019, Imerys Talc USA temporarily closed a processing plant in New York state after detecting the presence of asbestos fibers in certain minerals processed at the facility.

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