Product liability: talc takes another hit asbestos source

We wrote in this blog several weeks ago about a man who worked in a factory that processed talc for cosmetic manufacturers and who recovered damages for exposure to asbestos in the talc. Another case involving talc as the source of asbestos fibers has now been resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Both cases may interest residents of North Carolina, because talc is one of the most widely used minerals.

The new case was started by a woman who had no known exposure to common asbestos-containing products such as pipe insulation and brake gaskets. Instead, she claimed that she contracted mesothelioma — a form of lung cancer that is caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure — because she used a product manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive that contained talc contaminated by asbestos. The product in question was Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. After a two-week trial, the woman received a jury verdict in her favor of $12.4 million. Colgate and the woman then settled the case for an undisclosed amount of money after the jury returned its verdict.

Colgate denied that its product contained asbestos, but the plaintiff was able to establish that she had not been exposed to any other source of asbestos fibers. Talc is widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and as a food additive. Some talc has been mined from deposits that are interlaced with asbestos (both talc and asbestos are classified as minerals.)

Cases based on talc as the source of asbestos fibers are a relatively recent development in asbestos litigation, but the well-established link between mesothelioma and asbestos product exposure can be very persuasive if the victim was not exposed to any other source of asbestos. Persons who believe that they may have suffered exposure to airborne asbestos fibers in talcum powder or other product using talc should seek medical advice on whether they have contracted mesothelioma. These persons may also benefit from consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about asbestos claims for an evaluation of their case.

Source: McClatchy DC, “Colgate-Palmolive settles talc-asbestos case, dismisses link to cancer,” Myron Levin, April 30, 2015