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Kazan Firm Wins $29.5 Million Mesothelioma Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson

Paralleling a similar verdict won in April of 2018, a California jury recently awarded clients of Kazan Law  damages totaling $29.5 million. The landmark verdict represents compensatory damages that Kazan clients Teresa Leavitt and her husband, Dean McElroy, suffered as a result of the mesothelioma Mrs. Leavitt contracted from exposure to the asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder – arguably the baby powder gold-standard for many decades. The couple is represented by a legal team made up of attorneys from both Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, PC, and Levy Konigsberg, LLP.

 

The Defendants, Responsibility, and Damages

Those defendants ordered to pay the $29.5 million verdict include three entities:

  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
  • Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc.
  • Cyprus Mines Corporation (Cyprus) – a talc supplier

The jury determined after extensive deliberation, that J&J bore 98 percent of the responsibility for Mrs. Leavitt’s injuries and that Cyprus bore the remaining 2 percent of responsibility. The verdict includes $22 million for Mrs. Leavitt’s past and future pain and suffering caused by the mesothelioma, $5 million for her husband’s spousal damages, which are also known as loss of consortium and loss of services and society, and $2.5 million for economic damages, including medical expenses and lost earnings.

 

Jury’s Findings

The jury’s findings on several important elements ultimately led to the final verdict in favor of the couple: 

  • Mrs. Leavitt’s use of Johnson’s Baby Powder was a substantial cause of her mesothelioma.
  • J&J and Cyprus failed to provide adequate warning regarding the dangers of asbestos, such as that found in their talc.
  • J&J intentionally withheld information regarding the risks associated with the talc found in their famous baby powder.

 

Supporting Evidence

Evidence in support of this verdict included multiple internal documents issued by both J&J and Cyprus that prove both defendants knew – as early as the 1960s – that the talc used to manufacture Johnson’s baby powder and Johnson and Johnson’s Shower to Shower products contained asbestos. In response to their initial discovery of this dangerous fact, J&J – and some other manufacturers of talcum powder – opted out of replacing the tainted talc with an alternative substance like cornstarch and, instead, implemented a testing mechanism that couldn’t detect the asbestos and, thus, attempted to absolve themselves of potential fault. The jury saw through this attempt.

The evidence presented mirrored evidence from the April 2018 case. It was, however, the first J&J talc-related trial to be completed following reporting from the New York Times and Reuters that established J&J’s long-term awareness of the asbestos issue and its decision to keep the information from both the public and government regulators.

 

Representation

The plaintiffs, Teresa Leavitt and Dean McElroy, are represented by a legal team that includes Joseph Satterley and Denyse Clancy of Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, PC, of Oakland, California, and Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg, LLP, based in New York and New Jersey.

 

Call Kazan Law Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Talcum Powder Lawyer

To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney, call Kazan Law today at 877-995-6372 or contact us online.

New Research Suggests Talcum Powder as Mesothelioma Cause in Women

mesothelioma causeAsbestos, the only known mesothelioma cause in the U.S., is associated with industrial uses. Because of its ability to withstand heat, asbestos was a go-to component for many manufactured products where heat resistance would be helpful. Car brakes and brake pads, home and building insulation contained asbestos. Thousands of tons of asbestos were used in World War II ships to insulate piping, boilers, steam engines, and steam turbines.

These uses of asbestos suggest occupations held primarily by men. In a report called The Asbestos Epidemic in America, the Environmental Working Group states,” Asbestos kills thousands more people than skin cancer each year, and nearly the number that are slain in assaults with firearms. The suite of diseases linked to asbestos exposure overwhelmingly affect older men.” The report goes on to say that even a tiny amount of asbestos can be lethal and that “asbestos diseases have a 20 to 50 year latency period, meaning that a substantial portion of individuals exposed in the 1960s and 1970s are just now showing up as disease or mortality statistics.”

Now new research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health, suggests that the use of talcum powder may be a mesothelioma cause in women.

The research focuses on the use of one brand of talcum powder by a woman who had recently died.

“This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released inhalable asbestos fibers. Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma,” the published report states. “Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma as well as other women with the same scenario.”

But talc is not only in talcum powder. It is commonly found in eye shadow, baby powder, face powder, and other loose-mineral cosmetics, where it’s used as an absorbent, anti-caking agent.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states on its website it is “unacceptable” for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos. “To prevent contamination of talc with asbestos, it is essential to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to purify the ore sufficiently.”

FDA reports that from 2008 to 2010 because of safety concerns, it studied talc from four talc suppliers and 38 talc-containing cosmetic products purchased in retail stores. These included eye shadow, blush, foundation, face powder, and body powder.

The analysis found no asbestos in any of the samples of cosmetic-grade raw material talc or cosmetic products containing talc. However FDA cautions that the results “do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.”

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