Articles Posted in Companies & Asbestos

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 Montana state supreme court recently handed down an important ruling in a class action asbestos lawsuit against the insurer of a long-time operator of a vermiculite mine and processing facility in the state, alleged to have caused the debilitating health conditions of local residents. The Court’s unanimous ruling will allow the plaintiffs to bring claims against Maryland Casualty Company, to potentially recover damages against the party for causing their asbestos-related conditions.

In her decision, Justice Ingrid Gustafson ruled that Maryland Casualty Company helped participate in W.R. Grace, the operator of the Libby vermiculite mine, conceal “known asbestos risk and worker injuries from workers.” Gustafson went on to write that Maryland Casualty Company “caused increased or prolonged exposure to asbestos, thereby increasing the risk of harm to workers beyond the pre-existing risk created by Grace.”

The case was originally brought by an employee of W.R. Grace in the late 1960s. The plaintiff claimed that he developed an asbestos-related condition while working at the company’s mill and operating equipment at the mine site. With the Montana state supreme court’s ruling, an estimated 800 other former W.R. Grace employees will be able to bring claims against Maryland Casualty Company for its failure to act responsibly.

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.

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.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently recalled 33,000 bottles of one of its talc-based products after regulators discovered trace amounts of asbestos fibers in samples taken from a bottle of Baby Powder purchased online. This is the first time Johnson & Johnson has issued such a recall for its iconic Baby Powder product and coincides with the first time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced finding asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products.

The recall applied to one lot of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder produced and shipped in the United States back in 2018. On a recent call with reports, Johnson & Johnson’s head of Women’s Health in the company’s medical safety organization, called the asbestos finding “extremely unusual,” adding that it was “inconsistent with our testing to date.”

In its call with reporters, Johnson & Johnson stated that it received a report from the FDA on October 17 alerting the company about the asbestos contamination in the lot of Baby Powder tested and the company would begin an investigation into its manufacturing records. The company faces an estimated 14,000 lawsuits across the country in state and federal court over allegations Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products caused plaintiffs’ serious medical conditions.

A California state jury recently heard opening arguments in a new talcum powder asbestos cancer trial brought by a 48-year old woman who claims she developed her serious form of cancer after years of using talc-based products produced and marketed by the defendant. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claims pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knew its talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos fibers but provided no warning to consumers about the dangers associated with using its products.

Attorneys for the plaintiff told jurors that for decades, the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower and that was the cause of her developing mesothelioma cancer. Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, maintained that despite the overwhelming evidence showing the company knew its products have tested positive for asbestos, those products are safe for consumers and not to blame for the plaintiff’s condition.

The trial comes just weeks after a Los Angeles jury handed down a substantial $40.3 million verdict to a plaintiff and her husband alleging the victim’s mesothelioma cancer was also caused by exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. That latest lawsuit is just one of many that together have produced over $5 billion in total compensation to dozens of plaintiffs across the country who claim their cancer diagnoses were due to asbestos exposure from decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products.

A Southern California jury recently awarded a former pipefitter and his wife $3 million in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought against a contractor whom the plaintiff claims frequently exposed him to asbestos during the course of his employment. The mesothelioma lawsuit claimed that D.W. Nicholson Corp. exposed the plaintiff to asbestos while performing an estimated 100 contracting jobs at the Masonite Corp. in Ukiah, California.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, D.W. Nicholson Corp. installed mechanical, electrical, and piping equipment at Masonite more than 100 times while the plaintiff worked at the site. The plaintiff alleged that D.W. Nicholson frequently exposed the victim to asbestos when the company failed to clean up asbestos-containing debris it left behind and provided no warning to Masonite workers about the risks of exposure.

As a result of years of asbestos exposure from 1964 to 1999, the plaintiff claimed he developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which commonly affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Asbestos exposure is directly linked to developing this rare type of cancer, often occurring through industrial exposure in the course of employment or sometimes secondhand when fibers are brought home on work clothing.

A New York City judge recently handed down an important ruling in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit allowing the plaintiff’s claim against a boiler company to continue rebuffing the defendant’s legal maneuvers to have the case dismissed before it could be heard by a jury. Attorneys for defendant Kohler Co. asked the judge to throw out the case on summary judgement, claiming there was a similar case in New York’s asbestos courts, which barred the plaintiffs from suing the company.

The case was brought by a retired clean up crew worker who worked from 1958 to 1966 and was responsible for removing boiler parts manufactured by Kohler Co. after they had been disassembled. The plaintiff eventually developed mesothelioma and filed a lawsuit against Kohler Co., claiming that he frequently came in contact with frayed gaskets that contained asbestos. The plaintiff ultimately passed away after his battle with mesothelioma in 2016, leaving his estate to take up the claim in court.

In their mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that Kohler Co. should have known that maintenance companies would repair and replace boilers with parts manufactured with deadly asbestos fibers. In their motion for summary judgement, attorneys for the defendant pointed out that Kohler Co. did not manufacture the asbestos-laden parts itself and that the removal of parts after dismantling was not a foreseeable use of the product and that therefore the company owed no duty of care to anybody who was carrying parts away.

A grieving Georgia family recently filed an asbestos talcum powder cancer lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson after losing their mother to a battle with mesothelioma in 2017 that they claim was caused by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant’s negligence. The family’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys Talc USA, comes just shortly after a report by Reuters detailed a review of thousands of internal company documents showing that the defendants knew for decades about asbestos contamination in its talcum powder products.

According to the talcum powder mesothelioma lawsuit, the victim used talc-based products manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and supplied by Imerys Talc USA that were contaminated with deadly asbestos fibers. Despite knowing full well about the presence of asbestos in its talcum powder products and the risks it could pose to consumers, the defendants declined to provide the public with any warnings on the product labels, according to the lawsuit.

The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit is another in an increasingly long list of claims filed against the company by defendants, mostly women, who developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma as a result of using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products. Currently, there are an estimated 12,000 other talcum powder cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson pending in state and federal courts, with several slated for trial in 2019.

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