Articles Posted in Companies & Asbestos

A New York court recently denied an attempt by the defendant in a talcum powder mesothelioma cancer lawsuit to have the case dismissed, which paves the way for the plaintiffs to have their day in court and seek justice for the harm caused by the defendant’s alleged negligence. In its ruling, the court denied defendant Whittaker Clark and Daniels’ motion for summary judgement to dismiss the claim, as well as denying the company’s bid to have claims of potential punitive damages thrown out.

According to the plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in New York County Supreme Court, the victim developed mesothelioma for exposure to asbestos fibers in talcum powder products manufactured by defendant Whittaker Clark and Daniels. The plaintiff claimed that during his time working as a barber in New York City from 1961 until he retired in 2016, he frequently breathed in talcum powder dust from the Clubman talc he applied to clients, which he alleges the defendant knowingly manufactured with asbestos fibers.

In its motion to dismiss the case, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma diagnosis was not caused by exposure to talc in Whittaker Clark and Daniels’ Clubman talcum powder, but instead by exposure to asbestos in the victim’s native Italy where he lived until he was 25 years old until he immigrated to the United States. Specifically, the defendants claimed that the victim was exposed to asbestos in quarries found in Sicily, Italy. Countering that argument, the plaintiff’s lawyers contended that the victim lived almost 15 miles from the sites in question.

A Minnesota appeals court recently denied a motion by the defendant-asbestos manufacturer in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit to dismiss the case on the grounds that the company had long since left the state. In its ruling, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota upheld the lower trial court’s decision not to throw out the case, determining that personal jurisdiction exists over the company and that the case may proceed and eventually be heard by a jury, if the matter is not resolved sooner.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers from the Conwed Corporation’s asbestos ceiling tile mill located in Cloquet, Minnesota. The plaintiff claims that his father, who worked at the mill from 1939 until 1975, would return home covered in asbestos dust. The plaintiff claims that he would see bags of asbestos fiber in the mill when he visited his father at work.

The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit goes on to claim that the victim himself went to work at the same Conwed Corporation mill in 1963. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of second-hand asbestos exposure and from his own time at the mill, he developed mesothelioma cancer. The lawsuit alleges that a corporate memo from Conwed in the late 1950s identified the health risks of asbestos exposure but provided no warnings to the mill’s employees in order for the workers to decide if it was safe for them to work at the site.

A Pennsylvania federal judge recently denied motions by the defendants in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit to exclude the testimony of several expert witnesses for the plaintiffs, thereby allowing the case to proceed as scheduled. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson had sought to derail the plaintiff’s case by claiming that the testimony which would have been presented by the witnesses in question was not proper on the grounds that the expert’s methods were not generally accepted by the scientific community.

In her ruling, the Philadelphia judge determined that Johnson & Johnson had failed to properly challenge the methods used by the experts to reach their scientific determinations and instead focused on those conclusions themselves. With the denial of Johnson & Johnson’s motion, the case will proceed as scheduled and it will be up to a jury to decide whether or not they agree with the scientific evidence, and ultimately the plaintiff’s case.

Johnson & Johnson’s motion to exclude the plaintiff’s expert witnesses comes not long after a New Jersey federal judge handed down a multidistrict litigation ruling allowing the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses to present evidence that the company’s talc-based products are linked to serious forms of cancer. The judge in those cases determined that the expert witnesses for the plaintiffs may testify that the talc Johnson & Johnson used in its cosmetics products was contaminated with asbestos and other substances which could cause the victims’ health conditions.

Some of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world are beginning to remove talc from the list of ingredients in their makeup products, likely due in no small part to the slew of multi-million-dollar verdicts being handed down by juries across the United States. Some of the high-profile companies that are considering removing the mineral from their cosmetics products include Chanel, Revlon, and L’Oreal. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, itself the target of thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits, recently announced it would no longer use talc in its iconic Baby Powder.

Luxury beauty company Chanel has removed talc minerals from one of its face powders and discontinued a talc-based body powder altogether due to the negative publicity talc-based cosmetics has received in months and years. Revlon, for its part, has ceased using talc altogether in its beauty products. Further, L’Oreal is in the process of finding alternatives for talc in its products as well. Although talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can be found in deposits near one another, which can lead to cross contamination if precautions are not taken.

Since 2016, Chanel has faced a handful of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who claim they developed serious forms of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers in contaminated talc used in the company’s beauty products. In 2017, Chanel stopped producing a talcum powder body powder scented with its No. 5 fragrance, according to a deposition taken in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles court.

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.

Contact Information