Scientists and doctors have recognized the carcinogenic effects of asbestos for decades. Acknowledging this meant that the government has had to step in and regulate asbestos exposure for workers. However, for thousands of people, the exposure has already happened.
Most people exposed to asbestos experience it through their work. Some people develop cancers because their spouses had exposure and they inhaled the asbestos from their clothing. For some, there is no link to asbestos. These people may have developed cancers as a result of asbestos exposure through contaminated talc.
Talcum powder is a popular bath and beauty product
Talcum powder is popular for a variety of purposes. Many people call it baby powder and use it on the bottoms of newborn infants to prevent diaper rash. Some adults sprinkle it inside their underwear to prevent moisture or odor from the genital area. Sadly, some people unwittingly may have contributed to their own illness by using a product that was contaminated with asbestos.
Internal company records from big companies, as well as testing from independent third parties, have shown that some talc sold on the consumer market in the United States was actually contaminated by asbestos. Hundreds of consumers have filed lawsuits against companies like Johnson & Johnson claiming that their cancers resulted from ongoing use of talcum powder.
Missouri court rules in favor of Johnson & Johnson
On Friday, June 29, 2018, an appeals court in Missouri tossed out a verdict against Johnson & Johnson. The case was a lawsuit brought by a woman who developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based products. While the court did not state that the bath-and-beauty Goliath was not responsible, they did overturn the verdict.
The judges did not debate whether or not asbestos causes cancer or whether Johnson & Johnson sold contaminated talc powder knowingly. Instead, their decision focused on a Supreme Court ruling about where these kinds of liability suits should get filed. Essentially, the Supreme Court decided that lawsuits must originate either in the state where the injuries occurred or where the business has its headquarters. Since neither was true in this case, the courts ruled to overturn the outcome of the case.
The plaintiff may have some options available, but this court loss could mean months or years before she or her family receive any kind of compensation for her cancer. It is important for people who are on the verge of filing a lawsuit over talcum powder contamination to ensure they are filing in the right jurisdiction. Small mistakes like this could end up costing someone a lot of money. In this case, the plaintiff may lose out on a $55 million award due to a technicality.