Paris-based minerals supplier Imerys SA has agreed to settle claims by 22 women involving asbestos-tainted talc that they say the company supplied to consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J). According to Bloomberg Business, the settlement, which has not yet been made public, will total at least $5 million.
The settlement comes at the same time a trial over the women’s ovarian cancer claims begins in St. Louis, reports Bloomberg, “leaving J&J and its consumer-products unit as the only defendants in the case.” The settlement “gets Imerys out of a high-profile case focusing in part on whether it sold its talc knowing it was tainted with asbestos.”
Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor, believes the women may have accepted the relatively modest payment from Imerys to gain a tactical advantage at trial. “It will make the trial cleaner” because now the plaintiff’s attorney “can put all his eggs in the J&J basket and not have to worry about evidence against Imerys,” she said.
Imerys faces around 9,000 claims that talc it supplied to J&J caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma—a debilitating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
“The company,” reports Bloomberg, “has been forced to defend itself in a string of trials, most recently in New Jersey, where a jury ordered Imerys and J&J in April to pay $117 million to a banker who claimed his asbestos-linked cancer was tied to baby powder use.” In this case, the jurors agreed that J&J was liable for 70 percent of the damages and Imerys was liable for the remaining 30 percent.
The Talc, Asbestos Link
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, so it is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders, as well as in a number of other consumer products. “In its natural form,” says the American Cancer Society (ACS), “some talc contains asbestos, a substance that causes cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.” If you are concerned about using talc, the ACS says that you may want to limit or avoid your use of consumer products that contain it.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.
Fisk, Margaret Cronin, and Jef Feeley. "Imerys Unit Settles Talc Claims for at Least $5 Million." Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 01 June 2018. Web. 14 June 2018.
"Talcum Powder and Cancer." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 14 June 2018.