Many scientific studies show that asbestos can cause cancer that emerges sometimes decades after exposure. A rare and aggressive cancer, mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos can also cause lung disease as well as other types of cancer.
There are 5 recognized types of asbestos. These are Crocidolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite and Actinolite. The mineral talc in its natural form does contain asbestos and causes cancer, but asbestos-free talc has been used in cosmetics since the 1970’s. While Johnson and Johnson(J&J) insisted on the safety and purity of their baby powder, an investigation shows that the manufacturing giant has been aware of the fact that the tremolite asbestos was in their talcum powder since the year 1971.
While use of asbestos is allowed if it accounts for less than 1% of the product, when companies lie about the percentage or even presence of the compound, this can be deadly. Notes from a meeting on July 8, 1971 between representatives of J&J’s research division in Brunswick, New Jersey and the FDA unveils that J&J knew that there were particles of asbestos in their talcum powder. At the meeting, the research representatives with Dr. Nashad from J&J discussed a review of their analytical method of detecting asbestos in the talcum powder.
While some studies link talc to cancer risk, there are concerns that the studies rely on people remembering how much talc they used years before. Further, there are other factors that may cause cancer besides just asbestos contamination
There are private cases all across the country, as well as a class action case under a district judge in New Jersey that make up over 19,000 plaintiffs. These lawsuits are filed by consumers and their survivors claiming that the talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, which is a commonly known carcinogen.
There have also been investigations by 41 states as well as a congressional inquiry. Inquiries revealed that they knew for decades that its product contains asbestos.
The most notable class actions have received verdicts of $4.7 billion, $117 million, $110 million, $70 million, $55 million and $26 million.
The litigation has become important to protect victims and to prevent J&J from withholding information such as this that can take so many lives. The World Health Organization and other authorities recognize no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Even small amounts can trigger cancer even years after exposure.
Despite investigations revealing that J&J knew for decades that its products contained asbestos, J&J has repeatedly said its products are safe and do not cause cancer.
The lawsuits have forced the company to remove their talcum based baby powder from the market which means less chance of consumers possibly developing cancer from the now widely understood asbestos contamination in the J&J product.
Much like the opioid litigation however, where Purdue continued to sell their products with similar marketing techniques on a global scale, fears are that the world is still at risk from J&J’s asbestos contaminated talcum powder.
The company continues to deny liability, and relates that they only took their talcum powder off the shelves since there is lower demand due to lawsuits. The company also relates that this lower demand is due to “misinformation” about the product’s safety. J&J continues to state that their decision to discontinue the talcum based baby powder is not connected to any investigation or lawsuit. The lawsuits are meant to prove a point to other companies as well that endangering the public with a contaminated product will have serious and lasting consequences.
The litigation affects those who now have cancer after being exposed to J&J’s talc products. Cancers caused by asbestos in talcum powder include mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. One prime example of this was Darlene Coker who was one of the first. Darlene had mesothelioma, a rare cancer often related to asbestos. She was aware that this cancer affected mostly men working in mines, exposed to the carcinogenic asbestos before its risks were fully understood.
Coker ran a massage school in Texas and was not aware of how she could have been exposed to asbestos. Coker then hired a personal injury attorney, Herschel Hobson. Hobson had worked in mines himself and knew firsthand how dangerous asbestos could be.
Together, the two investigated what the cause of her injury was and honed in on the possibility of the talcum powder Coker had used on her infant children and herself her whole life. From his work experience, Hobson knew that talc and asbestos occurred together and that mined talc could be contaminated with carcinogen because he used to work in mines himself.
Coker soon sued Johnson and Johnson alleging that the company’s talcum powder caused the cancer that would end her life. J&J denied this claim and their initial response was that the product was asbestos free. The company was able to avoid disclosing test results and other internal company records that attorney Hobson had requested against the Baby Powder.
Coker had no choice but to drop her lawsuit, but two decades later all that information was compelled and subsequently disclosed. The materials that Coker fought for revealed facts that asbestos was in their products and their initial claims were false. In fact, the company’s raw talcum and other finished powders did test positive for small amounts of asbestos.
If you are a consumer like Darlene Coker, and have developed cancer due to exposure to talcum powder, you should reach out to The Cochran Firm to get help with your case.
Contact a Cochran Firm attorney if you have been affected. Call 1 (888) 671-5973 for a confidential call with an intake specialist or visit Cochrantalc.com to complete a form so we can walk you through the confidential process.
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