This blog has previously written about the presence of asbestos fibers in talc, the fine white power that is used in cosmetics and baby power and is a common presence in many North Carolina households. The hazards of talc as an asbestos-containing product are just now emerging, as revealed by a recent $18.07 million verdict in favor of a man exposed to asbestos by using talc.
The plaintiff, a retired political consultant, contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to talc in his father’s barber shop over the course of several decades. Mesothelioma is an especially virulent form of lung cancer that is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos fibers. Talc, chemically known as hydrous magnesium silicate, is a natural mineral that is used in cosmetics, food, chewing gum and tablets. Talc and asbestos, another naturally-occurring mineral, are often found in proximity to one another during mining operations.
Liability for the award was apportioned among five companies that manufactured products containing talc. Whitaker Clark & Daniels was charged with 30 percent of the damage award, American International Industries with 10 percent, Colgate-Palmolive with 10 percent, Cyprus Amax Minerals with 40 percent and Shutlon (the manufacturer of products bearing the Old Spice label) with 10 percent. All defendants except Whitaker Clark settled with the plaintiff prior to trial. According to news reports, the plaintiff and Whitaker Clark settled the case before the punitive damages portion of the case began.
As we have noted in prior posts, asbestos remains a widespread health hazard. Anyone who may have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers may wish to obtain a medical examination to check for symptoms of one or more disease caused by asbestos, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. If the diagnosis is positive, a consultation with a law firm that specializes in product liability cases involving asbestos can provide a useful analysis of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expense, lost income and pain and suffering.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Cancerous Talc Powder Spurs $18M Jury Verdict,” Matt Reynolds, Oct. 28, 2016