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$1.6 Million verdict for asbestos in cosmetic talc affirmed

In a decision that could have ramifications for persons in North Carolina and other states, a New Jersey appellate court has affirmed a verdict of $1.6 million in favor of a man who was exposed to asbestos-containing cosmetic talc from his father's work clothing. The case is believed to be the first involving cosmetic talc.

The defendant was the primary supplier of raw talc used in Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powder. The raw talc contained asbestos that was released into the atmosphere when the raw talc was processed into talcum powder. The plaintiff's father worked at a plant in Cape May, NJ, that manufactured Old Spice talcum powder, and he regularly handled the raw talc. The plaintiff testified that during the first eight years of his life, he was exposed to the talc dust on his father's work clothes. The plaintiff was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2011 after enduring several months of severe abdominal pain. The plaintiff denied being exposed to asbestos fibers from any other source.

The appellate court concluded that the plaintiff's father had worked with "the injury producing element" of the talcum powder, i.e. asbestos fibers in the talc. The court affirmed the jury's award of $1.4 million to the plaintiff for pain and suffering and $200,000 to his wife for loss of consortium.

This case once again demonstrates the many hazards posed by asbestos-containing products. The case also shows the length of time that is required for mesothelioma to cause noticeable symptoms of the disease. Exposure to asbestos occurs frequently in spite of the wide spread knowledge of the mineral's severe health hazards. Any person who believes that he or she was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers at the workplace or elsewhere should consider obtaining a competent medical examination; if the examination reveals the presence of mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease such as asbestosis, consultation with an attorney who regularly handles asbestos lawsuits can provide a professional evaluation of the circumstances and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages from the parties at fault.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, "Landmark Asbestos Verdict Over Cosmetic Talc Survives Appeal," Mary Pat Gallagher, March 27, 2015

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