Articles Posted in Mesothelioma Court Rulings and Legislation

Congress recently failed to pass a bill that would have amended an existing federal law to prohibit the manufacturing and sales of asbestos, or any other products that contain the deadly carcinogen. The impasse came after the bill failed to pass through the House of Representatives when partisan bickering arose over an amendment that would have preserved the right of asbestos cancer victims to hold negligent companies accountable in a court of law and seek compensation for the harm suffered.

The failure to send the bill from the House to the Senate was a blow to asbestos victims and advocates who had pushed hard for the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act to become law and help save countless lives. The bill had previously cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee by an overwhelming margin, by a vote of 47-1 and had broad bi-partisan support in the Senate. However, a late amendment by Democrats essentially killed the legislation after Republicans took issue with the prospect of litigation over talcum-powder asbestos cancer lawsuits.

The added language to the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act would not have changed the definition of asbestos as far as cosmetics regulations under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and for determining whether a cosmetics product contains asbestos either as an ingredient or as an accessory mineral to an ingredient, such as talc. Companies like Johnson & Johnson are embroiled in legal fights with plaintiffs who claim they developed mesothelioma and other serious forms of cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers in talc-based cosmetics products.

As we just recently observed National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, there is perhaps no better time than now for Congress to take formal action to finally and officially ban the use of asbestos across the country once and for all. While federal legislation dating back to the 1970s effectively banned asbestos for many uses, the substance is still not officially outlawed in the United States, which potentially puts thousands of innocent Americans at risk still for developing serious asbestos-related health conditions.

However, there is one piece of legislation making its way through the House of Representatives that would finally ban the importation of asbestos into the United States, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN). In 2019, the bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 47 to 1 and is now poised to come before an up or down vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“This bill will stop hundreds of metric tons of asbestos from entering the United States each year and will protect Americans from the daily threat . . . found in homes, schools, workplaces and on consumer shelves,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, to a local Montana media outlet. The bill before Congress is named after her late husband, Alan, who passed away from mesothelioma.

In what was one of the first mesothelioma cancer trials conducted via videoconferencing, a California jury has handed down a multimillion dollar verdict in favor of a former Navy Admiral who claimed he developed a serious form of cancer due to asbestos exposure from products manufactured by the defendant. In their verdict, the jury found that exposure to defendant Metalclad Insulation Corp.’s insulation was a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer diagnosis and awarded the victim $2.5 million in total compensation.

According to the mesothelioma lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Alameda, the retired Navy Admiral developed mesothelioma cancer after being exposed to asbestos fibers in insulation products manufactured by Metalclad Insulation Corp. Among the plaintiff’s claims were that Metalclad Insulation Corp engaged in negligent conduct for design defects in its asbestos insulation products, failure to warn the plaintiff about the dangers of its products, and failure to recall its asbestos products due to knowledge of the harm they could cause.

As is common in many asbestos cancer lawsuits, defendant Metalclad Insulation Corp tried many legal maneuvers to have the case thrown out rather than have a jury of the parties’ peers decide the merits of the lawsuit. Specifically, attorneys for the defendant sought a mistrial after the victim shared photographs with members of the jury and discussed how to change their virtual backgrounds over the videoconferencing software used to conduct the trial remotely. However, those attempts to throw out the case and begin the process of a new trial were rejected by the judge presiding over the case, and allowed deliberation to proceed.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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