In Los Angeles, CA, a jury returned an $18 million verdict against the talc company Whittaker, Clark and Daniels for its role in causing mesothelioma in a prominent Californian named Philip Deepian.
The jury verdict handed down on Oct. 19 was the largest mesothelioma verdict connected to exposure to cosmetic talc.
The jury delivered the verdict after a trial of six weeks. Another phase involving punitive damages was supposed to resume before the company reached a settlement on Oct. 26.
When it agreed to the settlement, the company avoided additional fines and penalties, which were based on the finding of the jury that it had acted with malice in how it marketed talc as being free of asbestos. However, the company failed to conduct any tests on the powder to confirm this.
Depoian, who was an aide to LA Mayor Tom Bradley for many years, was first diagnosed in May 2015 with the asbestos cancer. His attorneys argued that Depoian was exposed to high levels of asbestos through his use of Old Spice, Clubman and Mennen Shave Talc.
Asbestos and talc are minerals made of natural silicate that are often mined in the same area. However, asbestos can lead to cancer and should never contaminate products with talc. They are rarely mixed, but there still are documented cases of talcum powder containing asbestos in some foreign countries.
Other Talc Lawsuits In the Works
There have been other lawsuits that have involved consumer use of talc and the belief that its regular use could be linked to serious forms of cancer. Most of these cases involve talc that was not laced with asbestos; nonetheless, juries still have found in some cases that the company was liable for the consumer getting cancer.
For example, Johnson and Johnson recently lost another trial over claims that some of its talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer. In a case in St. Louis, a woman was awarded more than $70 million.
J&J has been accused in hundreds of lawsuits that it ignored studies that linked some of its baby powder products to ovarian cancer. The $70 million verdict above follows another case where a jury awarded $72 million, and $55 million against J&J in two other talc lawsuits in St. Louis.
In these J&J cases, women filed suits claiming that regular use of talcum powder in the genital area caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The lawsuits argued that the company should have been putting warning labels on its products so that consumers could decide if it was worth the risk to use talcum powder.
J&J continues to deny that there is any link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. On the other hand, plaintiff attorneys in these cases have produced documents from J&J that claimed that the company knew for decades that there was an elevated risk of ovarian cancer by using talc.
Rather than putting warning labels on their talcum products, J&J, the plaintiff’s attorneys claimed, came up with a new defense strategy to stop government regulation of talc products.
More About Talc and Mesothelioma
Talc has long been a very popular product that is used in baby powders and soaps, as well as other health and beauty products. Talc is not a dangerous substance, but there is some belief that talc can cause cancer in some cases.
Decades ago, it was very common for talc to contain asbestos fibers, but this is not supposed to happen today. In the above lawsuit, it seems that asbestos fibers did somehow get mixed in with talc products.
Specifically, sometimes talc can sometimes be contaminated with tremolite, which is a type of amphibole asbestos. This type of asbestos is a mixture of blue and brown asbestos. Both of these have been proven over time to be carcinogens.
Tremolite and talc are also known to be metamorphic; that is, the very same geological processes created the minerals. So, where we find talc, there often will be tremolite. Generally, people years ago did not realize that when they were mining talc that there could be exposure to tremolite.
These days, it is well known that talc may be contaminated with deadly asbestos. So, all talc that is used for consumer or commercial purposes has to go through major inspections. Still, some talc miners will be exposed to tremolite, and occasionally, lots of talc still can contain asbestos if it has been mined overseas. Inspections in other parts of the world may not be as stringent as US inspections.
If consumers think that they may have suffered negative health effects from the use of talc, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced mesothelioma attorney for a free consultation.