Legislation & Litigation
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Publication date: 03/01/2023
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How to cite the Asbestos.com article
Povtak, T. (2023, January 3). British citizens filing asbestos talc claims in US courts. asbestos.com. Retrieved January 3, 2023 from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2023/01/03/uk-asbestos-cases-us-courts/
Povtak, Tim. “British Citizens Bringing Asbestos Talc Claims in US Courts.” asbestos.comJanuary 3, 2023, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2023/01/03/uk-asbestos-cases-us-courts/.
Povtak, Tim. “British Citizens Bringing Asbestos Talc Claims in US Courts.” asbestos.com. Last modified on January 3, 2023. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2023/01/03/uk-asbestos-cases-us-courts/.
UK residents are among the growing number of personal injury plaintiffs filing lawsuits in US courts, attributing their mesothelioma cancer diagnoses to asbestos-contaminated talc.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. With the highest per capita incidence rate of mesothelioma in the world, the UK is contributing to the evolution of asbestos litigation in America.
While mesothelioma linked to occupational asbestos exposure in men is decreasing, non-occupational exposure leading to mesothelioma in women is increasing.
Asbestos-contaminated talc, sometimes found in health and beauty products, is partly responsible for this growing trend. The growing number of talc-related cases in recent years – the first court case took place in 2016 – has contributed to the increase in international product liability filings.
Cases related to US products
“You may think that by living in the UK you are not able to file a complaint with the American legal system, but that is not entirely true,” said lawyer Daniel Wasserberg, an asbestos litigation specialist in New York, at the Mesothelioma Center in Asbestos. com. “If you have [asbestos] exposure related to American brand companies or products made here in the United States, you may be able to avail yourself of a courtroom in the United States.
Wasserberg has particular expertise dealing with the issue of asbestos-contaminated talc, which has been found in baby powders, body powders, a wide range of makeup, creams and moisturizers.
Some cases of tainted talc involve UK residents who purchased products while on vacation in the US. Others relate to American products sold outside the country. Johnson & Johnson, which faces numerous cases of contaminated talc, manufactures its products in several different countries.
According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, around 450 to 500 women there are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. An annual increase of 7% is also expected for each of the coming years, largely due to contaminated talc.
“We are seeing more and more talc manufacturers becoming defendants in the asbestos litigation,” Wasserberg said. “They are part of a new wave of asbestos litigation. The talcum powder litigation is here to stay.
Johnson & Johnson leads talc litigation
Johnson & Johnson is the biggest name in talc-related litigation, with nearly 40,000 talc-related lawsuits still pending. Although the company has continued to emphasize the safety of its products, talc lawsuit litigation, in settlements and verdicts, has topped $3 billion, according to the company.
J&J announced in August 2022 that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in 2023 and now use a cornstarch-based formulation. It stopped selling in the United States and Canada in 2020, citing the flurry of lawsuits.
Other cosmetics giants facing litigation include Avon, Chanel, Clinique and Estee Lauder. Avon, for example, was recently ordered by a California jury to pay more than $52 million – $10.3 million in punitive damages, in addition to $40 million in actual damages – to a woman who said his mesothelioma was caused by asbestos-contaminated talc.
Only a small percentage of contaminated talc cases involve mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. The majority of cases involve ovarian cancer or other serious health conditions.
Talc contamination comes from where the two naturally occurring minerals are found near the Earth’s surface, often in close proximity to each other.
Although contamination testing is done, the different testing methods vary widely. The absence of warnings on products where asbestos contamination is possible has often been in question in the courts.
“Lawyers [including our firm] have been successful in taking these cases to US courts and getting good results,” Wasserberg said. “People generally think that personal injury lawsuits are a local practice, but that’s not always the case with asbestos. A claimant may be surprised that their case can be heard here.
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