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In a series of pre-trial Daubert hearings, a U.S. District Court is weighing the qualifications of scientific experts in mesothelioma lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over talc baby powder products that allegedly caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. The ruling will impact some 12,000 cases pending before the New Jersey federal court.mesothelioma lawsuit

Plaintiff scientific experts are being vetted after a motion by defense attorneys to exclude those witnesses, arguing their scientific testimony fails to meet the stringent criteria of the Daubert standard, set by the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Plaintiffs dispute this, arguing the talc powder defendant company sold contained carcinogenic asbestos and asbestos fibers, resulting in their developing cancer.

Daubert hearings are common in mass torts, particularly those in mesothelioma product liability lawsuits, as they involve issues of exposure and causation – key to establishing liability in this multi-district litigation. The defendant company’s effort to dismiss all of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses would effectively result in the end of litigation for these plaintiffs because without that testimony, they won’t have enough proof of their claim.

So far, none of the claims in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey case 3:16-md-02738  have been scheduled for trial. Continue reading

There is a common misconception that long-term cigarette smokers don’t have a claim for asbestos exposure in the event of a mesothelioma or lung cancer diagnosis.railroad-300x225

But Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) is only the latest and most recent example of a corporate defendant losing that argument. Last week, an Appeals Court rejected the company’s appeal of a $2.3 million jury award after the jury rejected Contrail’s argument that cigarette smoking was solely responsible for the plaintiff’s lung cancer, despite extensive exposure to asbestos on the job. The justices ruled the victim had met his legal burden of proof by presenting enough evidence to show exposure to asbestos was a substantial contributing factor to his cancer.

That’s the legal requirement: Substantial contributing factor. While a victim’s own negligent behavior (like smoking) may be taken into account, it does not absolve a defendant from all liability.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first new treatment for mesothelioma in more than 15 years.

NovoTTF-100L System (Novocure), in combination with pemetrexed plus platinum-based chemotherapy, has been approved as a first-line treatment for cases of unresectable locally advanced or metastatic malignant pleural mesothelioma. Mesothelioma’s long latency period means most victims have in an advanced stage upon diagnosis. Cases that are locally advanced, or which ave spread to other organs, are typically deemed inoperable. Boston asbestos attorney

The NovoTTF-100L System is non-invasive. The treatment uses electric fields, known as Tumor Treating Fields, to disrupt cancer-cell division. Approval followed the STELLAR trial, which evaluated effectiveness of the treatment. Our Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyers know such treatment innovations are critical because fewer than 20 percent of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma are candidates for surgical tumor removal due to diagnosis at an advanced stage of the disease.

The clinical trial, held at cancer centers across Europe, included 80 patients with unresectable, previously untreated, malignant pleural mesothelioma. The results were presented in September 2018 at the 19th annual World Conference on Lung Cancer.

“NovoTTF-100L provides unresectable MPM patients with a treatment option that may improve survival,” said Mary Hesdorffer,  executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Results showed that patients treated with NovoTTF-100L plus chemotherapy had a median overall survival of 18.2 months (95% CI 12.1-25.8), while median progression free survival (secondary endpoint) was 7.6 months. Those results are about six months longer than for those patients who only receive chemotherapy treatment.

While such treatment advances are welcome, it is the work being done in the courtroom to hold these companies responsible that will ultimately do the most to protect American consumers.

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled against a mesothelioma victim who sued GE for asbestos exposure during his career building power plants in the 1970s.gavel21-300x200

The ruling is the latest to tackle the issue of statutes of limitations in cases where diagnosis is made decades after exposure. Auto manufacturers have won similar verdicts in cases where it could not be determined whether a victim’s exposure was caused by original or replacement parts installed during routine maintenance.

The verdict in Sterns v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. No. SJC-12544 is the latest to tackle the issue of the long dormancy period between asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis, which is also an intense focus of medical researchers who continue to search for a cure. Our Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyers continue to follow each of these high-court decisions that impact mesothelioma victims and their families.

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Shares of Johnson & Johnson were down in mid-week trading after a California Jury awarded $29 million to a woman who said asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused her mesothelioma. Our mesothelioma lawyers in Massachusetts continue to carefully follow each of these talcum powder cases and are committed to fighting for the rights of women and children who have been harmed. talcumpowder-300x225

CNBC reports Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of similar lawsuits as it continues to insist its talcum powder is safe and free of asbestos. The company said it would appeal the verdict, which occurred in California Superior Court in Oakland.

More than 13,000 talcum-related law suits have been filed. Johnson & Johnson lost a similar case in Los Angeles last year, where a jury delivers a $21.7 million verdict. The company also failed to reverse a $4 billion verdict in Missouri, where 22 women had blamed their ovation cancer on use of Johnson Johnson products. Johnson & Johnson is one of the nation’s largest consumer product companies and is currently valued at  more than $350 billion.

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When it comes to providing care to mesothelioma patients and protecting consumers from the risks of asbestos exposure, the United States lags significantly behind effort in the United Kingdom.

Based on population, the United Kingdom has the highest rate of mesothelioma diagnoses in the world, with about 2,700 new cases annually. Mesothelioma UK notes asbestos exposure occurred across a much broader range of society than those working in the construction and building sector, many of whom have long been identified as facing high risk of developing mesothelioma.mesothelioma attorney

Because of the lengthy period between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma diagnosis, typically 25-40 years, the United Kingdom is facing an increasing number of patients being diagnosed with the deadly cancer. The same is expected to hold true in the United States, as the aging Baby Boomers are the generation most exposed to the wide use of asbestos products. From the 1940s-1970s, asbestos was used in a wide array of construction and building products.

The United Kingdom is seeing mesothelioma diagnoses across many employment sectors, including tradespeople, engineering, factory workers, construction, education, healthcare, and the armed forces. As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers recently reported, U.S. military mesothelioma cases are among the most common in the United States, particularly among Navy veterans, where asbestos was commonly used aboard ships for its heat-resistant and insulating properties.

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If ever there was proof that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is derelict in its duty to protect the public, perhaps it’s the news this week that Sri Lanka is the latest nation to ban import of Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder, amid growing proof of asbestos contamination. The Daily Mail reports the license for A.Baur & Co to import the product expired in December, the Daily Mail reported. gavel2-300x200

Our Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyers reported late last year that Johnson & Johnson continues to defend itself from liability over asbestos contamination in its iconic baby powder. A report by Reuters News Service claimed Johnson & Johnson knew for years its baby powder contained asbestos but did not warn the public. Meanwhile, a New Jersey court has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $80 million in damages to a man who said the talcum powder was responsible for his diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.

Johnson and Johnson disputes the Reuters report as it continues to defend itself against an avalanche of civil lawsuits. Meanwhile, you can still buy the company’s talcum powder at virtually any store in the United States.

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2018 brought some advances in treatment and some legal victories for mesothelioma victims and their advocates.

The liability of Johnson & Johnson over asbestos contaminated talcum powder was probably the biggest headline of the year. But our Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyers have noted a number of legal and medical victories this year.talcumpowder-300x225

The Johnson & Johnson case illustrates why litigation is a primary threat to these companies. Internal documents, memos, emails and other evidence continue to show defendant companies often ignored or supressed evidence, while marketing their deadly products as safe for use by consumers. In 2016, J & J and other defendants suffered three large verdicts for exposure to its baby powder in St. Louis, Mo.: $72 million, $70 million and $55 million. In 2017, the American Bar Association identified talcum powder liability as a material threat to defendants and the insurance industry.

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Trust funds may already be available for victims of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. With a latency period of 30-40 years, most diagnosed are senior citizens exposed to asbestos in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. A naturally-occurring mineral used for its insulating and fire-retardant properties, its carcinogenic properties were hidden for decades by some of the nation’s largest corporations. At the height of asbestos use, American corporations mined nearly 1 million tons of the mineral and used it to manufacture more than 3,000 different products.gavel-300x199

Unfortunately for victims, time is often far too short after diagnosis. Those diagnosed have a median survival of just 18 months. Having access to a trust fund can provide assurance and peace of mind. However, asbestos litigation is among the most complex areas of product liability, personal injury and wrongful death law.

New England military veterans and shipyard workers face some of the highest risks when it comes to being diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma a year will be diagnosed in the United States.navyasbestos-300x225

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a common construction material used for decades before the deadly fiber’s carcinogenic properties were fully known and disclosed to the public. The Environmental Protection Agency banned new uses in 1989. But to this day it’s a material commonly found in many older buildings. Believed relatively harmless if left undisturbed, the dangers come when asbestos tiles, insulation or other material crumbles, frays or otherwise becomes airborne. The latency period between exposure and diagnosis is typically 30-40 years, with average age at diagnosis being 59 years old in the United States.