The latest test case
A court in America was due to assess whether Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products are responsible for causing another person to suffer with mesothelioma, during late August of 2018.
This was the sixth test case of its type involving the well-known company, which has been pursued by thousands of sufferers of ovarian cancer.
The latest test case, has been pursued by Carolyn Weirick who was sadly diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma during 2017. Her legal team have argued that her disease was caused as a result of breathing in harmful amounts of asbestos fibres from Johnson & Johnson’s shower and baby powder over the course of many years.
The Defendant company has always counter argued that their talc products are entirely safe but the Claimant’s specialist asbestos disease lawyer, Jay Stuemke told the court:-
“Talc is not as pure as people would like to think. You can’t process asbestos out of talc.”
Both asbestos and talc are minerals with a different chemical make-up and shape. Talc contains magnesium, silicon and oxygen.
The problems faced by the Defendant company in this action, as well as others that manufacture talc, is that talc deposits and asbestos deposits are often in close proximity to one another, therefore increasing the probability that the talc rocks, which are smashed up to form the powder, will be chronically contaminated with amounts of asbestos fibre.
What was the verdict of the jurors?
The case ended with the jurors unable to agree on a verdict. One of the company’s lawyers, Christopher Vejnoska, said, “After five or six days of deliberations following weeks of hearing evidence, the jury still found that the plaintiffs couldn’t carry their burden of proof on the very fundamental question of whether Johnson & Johnson had acted negligently, which I think fits with the fact that people have been using Johnson & Johnson baby powder for over a century with no problem. I think that the jury’s result we got is consistent with that fact.”
What are the risks?
It is accepted here in the UK, that there is no “safe level of asbestos exposure” and even inhalation of one asbestos fibre can lead to a traumatic diagnosis of asbestos-related mesothelioma in later life.
Researchers have commonly reported that the more frequent the exposure, the higher the risk of mesothelioma developing will be.
It is thought that any product which contains talc possesses the possibility of consisting of small amounts of asbestos fibre, although purification processes used to extract asbestos from talc are used.
The American Cancer Society confirm that findings have been mixed in relation to whether purified talc can cause ovarian or lung cancer. No strong connection has been made between talc dust exposure and other forms of cancer.
In contrast, the inhalation of asbestos fibres has, of course, been associated with the risk of developing the deadly cancer, asbestos-related mesothelioma for decades as well as other diseases including asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening, pleural effusions and pleural plaques.
Despite asbestos use in talc being effectively outlawed for home use in the 1970s, it is thought that talcum powder is not an isolated product still containing asbestos fibres.
In the last 12 months, various forms of makeup and crayons have also been found to contain some asbestos fibres, raising further concerns about the risks of developing mesothelioma.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you have a valid asbestos claim for any other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.
Sammon, John, “Trial opens accusing Johnson & Johnson talc powder causing mesothelioma” 21/08/2018.
Siegel, David, “Sixth Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Mesothelioma Trial Begins in California”, 21/08/18 – Courtroom View Network.
Talcum Powder & Cancer, American Cancer Society Website.