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Another Talc Trial, Another Multi-Milliondollar Verdict

by | Jun 14, 2019 | Firm News, Injuries

A California jury awarded almost $10 million in damages to a dying woman whose regular talcum powder use triggered her mesothelioma. However, the jury did not award any punitive damages. What can Brainerd injury lawyers learn from this outcome?

For the first time, jurors divided liability between manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive, a talcum powder retailer. This latest verdict is the 11th victory for victims since 2016. Despite this most recent setback, J&J continued to deny that its product was dangerous. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Kim Montagnino said the trial contained some “procedural and evidentiary errors,” but she offered no further details.

J&J faces about 14,000 talcum powder lawsuits.

The Link Between Talcum Powder and Asbestos

Chemically, talc and asbestos are similar substances. Both these minerals often come from about the same place. Furthermore, they are both extremely fibrous. In fact, roughly 20,000 asbestos fibers can fit between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a penny. Just one fiber is enough to cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of heart/lung cancer.

Given these facts, it’s easy for a Brainerd injury lawyer to establish the connection between talcum powder and asbestos poisoning.

Extensive research supports this connection. As early as the 1970s, at least three different Johnson & Johnson laboratory tests revealed that its talcum powder products contained traces of asbestos. In one report, researchers said the asbestos amount was “rather high.” Yet the company hid these results from the Food and Drug Administration.

The evidence continued to mount. During a review of laboratory tests from the 2000s, analysts noticed that the reports used words like “rods” and “fiberforms.” These words are industry terms for carcinogenic asbestos fibers.

J&J lawyers dismissed all these adverse results as either “outlier” tests that proved nothing or as “background” asbestos fibers. These assertions may have been enough to appease FDA regulators and company shareholders, but they obviously do not resonate very well with jurors.

Your Claim for Mesothelioma Damages

Overall, cancer survival rates have increased dramatically since the 1990s. So, a mesothelioma diagnosis is no longer essentially a death sentence. However, for various reasons, the mesothelioma survival rate is still rather low.

Mesothelioma is a tumor that develops in the narrow and delicate lining between the heart and lungs. So, the traditional three-prong approach that works so well on other kinds of cancers is not terribly effective against mesothelioma:

  • Radiation: These treatments shrink malignant tumors so doctors can remove them. Today’s targeted radiation treatments do not kill very many healthy cells, so patients can tolerate higher doses. But mesothelioma is in such a sensitive area that such powerful treatments are usually not possible. The heart and lungs are too vital to risk.
  • Surgery: Once radiation shrinks the tumor, doctors remove it, or at least remove most of it. But because of mesothelioma’s location, surgery is usually not an option.
  • Chemotherapy: Sometimes, chemotherapy drugs alone are enough to treat cancer. These drugs kill cancer cells not only at the tumor, but also in other parts of the body, so they keep the disease from metastasizing. But mesothelioma is so rare and so aggressive that doctors often do not catch it early enough for chemotherapy to be effective.


Due to these complexities, mesothelioma treatments are enormously expensive. These costs usually exceed $12,000 a month. Additionally, most victims are unable to work while they receive treatments. The aggressive treatments have too many side effects, and the disease itself is extremely painful. Because of the excruciating pain and relatively poor general prognosis, Brainerd injury lawyers can also obtain significant compensation for emotional distress and other noneconomic losses.

In general, punitive damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the company intentionally disregarded a known risk. The aforementioned misconduct certainly qualified as such. Yet many jurors do not award punitive damages unless there is a lot of evidence and a Brainerd injury lawyer explains why punitive damages are appropriate. So, to obtain maximum compensation, your attorney must have a special skill set.

How Brainerd Injury Lawyers Handle Mass Tort Claims

Asbestos poisoning, talcum powder, hernia mesh, and other mass tort claims affect thousands of victims in roughly the same way. However, every situation is different. So, it’s very inefficient for courts to handle these cases one at a time, but they are not similar enough to be a single class-action suit.

So, most of these cases are Multi-District Litigation matters. The MDL rue consolidates similar mass tort cases for pretrial purposes. So, if you partner with a Brainerd injury attorney over a talcum powder claim, that claim may initially go to another courtroom in another state.

Such consolidation has significant benefits for victim/plaintiffs. Judges usually appoint special masters who shepherd these cases through the discovery process. Additionally, different victim/plaintiffs can pool their resources and share information. And, when one case settles, that resolution often creates momentum for more settlements, like a chain of dominoes that fall over after someone topples the first one.

If the case does not settle during the pretrial phase, the MDL court usually sends it back to Crow Wing County or its other original jurisdiction for trial.

Partner with an Aggressive Attorney

If you frequently used talcum powder, a doctor probably needs to perform a mesothelioma screening. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jons, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.