Colgate-Palmolive Settles Asbestos-Talc Cases

Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral that forms under the same geological conditions as asbestos.  This is similar to vermiculite, which also tends to form alongside asbestos.  While both of these minerals are distinct from asbestos, they are often contaminated with the deadly asbestos fibers and that means using products made from talc can lead to mesothelioma and other serious medical conditions including other types of cancer.  Even when used alone, talc has been shown to cause serious medical illness, largely in women, as talc was and still is used in many baby powder products.

Boston mesotheliomaAccording to a recent news article from Bloomberg, Colgate-Palmolive, a major manufacturer of talcum-powder (baby powder) products has just entered in an agreement to settle a lawsuit.  In this lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged she developed mesothelioma due to the deadly asbestos fibers contained in the company’s talcum-powder products which she used for many years.

This case was headed to trial, but the settlement agreement obviates the need for such a trial.  The terms of the settlement have not been made public, which as our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, is fairly commonplace since most settlement agreements contain a non-disclosure agreement.  This is not always the case as the settlement amount may come out in reports to stockholders as it can have an impact on the value of the individual shares.

Another company that is a major producer of talcum-powder based products is pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.  This company also has been sued by many plaintiffs and is currently defending more than 5,000 claims.

Multi-district Litigation (MDL)

When there are this many claims against a single defendant, or set of defendants, the courts may move to consolidate these cases in to a massive class action lawsuit creating what is known as multi-district litigation (MDL) in federal courts. This will requiring a steering committee in many cases so that all cases can be tracked and consolidated so that the court will not have a need to have the same issues tried thousands of times in courts across the country.  This is done in the interest of judicial efficiency as  even the federal district courts have limited time and resources to hear all of their cases on the respective dockets in a reasonable amount of time.

Complex Legal Issues in Talc Asbestos Cases

In these MDL lawsuits involving talc-based asbestos claims, there may be many complex legal issues that are not found in individual cases, and it will take a lot more resources and experience to coordinate the massive undertaking. The best thing a mesothelioma plaintiff can do, whether they were exposed by talc products or from occupational exposure to asbestos is to consult with a Boston mesothelioma injury lawyer that has experience dealing with complex multi-district litigation cases.

While Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 5000 individual lawsuits, Colgate-Palmolive is dealing with around 170.  While it may seem like the relatively smaller number of cases may mean that their products are not a serious threat, when we think of these as real people who are suffering from a deadly cancer, or the families who are left to forge ahead after their loved ones have died, this is far from a minor issue.  Each one of these cases, whether were are talking about hundreds or thousands, represents a real victim and each of them have real families.

One of the worst things about mesothelioma, is it is not detectable as the cancer is growing. This means there is no real way to catch it early and do something about it before it becomes too advanced to treat.  Once a person is exposed to asbestos fibers, they become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium.  It will then metastasize into the deadly from of cancer known as mesothelioma. Unlike with other more treatable forms of cancer, a person will not develop symptoms between 20 to 50 years after exposure.  At this point, a mesothelioma plaintiff in Boston will start to develop noticeable symptoms  such as shortness of breath, abdominal pain and chest pain.  They will then go to a doctor to find out what is wrong and learn they have advanced stage mesothelioma.  This means they probably will not be alive in a year or two.

There are treatment options, but there is nothing close to a cure.  If doctors treat the cancer, it will typically involve the use of invasive surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.  Often two or three of these methods are used in combination.  One procedure involves removing large sections of tissue and organs such an entire lung, and the applying a warmed chemotherapy drug to the remaining tissue in hopes the tumor will not return as quickly, but it will probably will return anyway.  These treatments may extend a patient’s life for a few years at most, but it will come at a cost of a lot of pain and suffering.

The only real way the cancer is caught early is when doctors are performing other medical tests or even surgery and they happen to see the mesothelioma tumors.  In this case, there may be a way to treat it more effectively so the patient can survive more than a decade, but these cases are few and far between.

One of the conditions of a typical settlement in any personal injury case such as Boston mesothelioma case is that defendants do not have to admit to any liability.  This means that the company may be able to maintain its position that their products are safe despite agreeing to pay the plaintiffs money. The settlement cannot be introduced as evidence of liability in future mesothelioma cases.

The makers are talcum-powder products are continuing to maintain such a position and cite to government-backed data that talc products do pose a risk to humans.  However, despite these claims, it seems that juries are more willing to believe talc can and does cause mesothelioma and other serious medical conditions. This may be part of the calculations a company will use when deciding to settle a claim as well as the cost of defending the action even if they are ultimately successful.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Colgate-Palmolive Settles Claims Over Asbestos in Its Talc, November 10, 2017, By Jeff Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg

More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog

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