The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Should I Call a Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyer If I Used Talcum Powder?
February 21, 2019
Recent developments in the nationwide talcum powder lawsuits are very favorable to victims. So, even if you used talcum powder years ago, you should definitely discuss your legal options with a Buffalo personal injury lawyer.
Facing an avalanche of liability lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson talc supplier Imerys Talc America filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2019. ITA officials said they believed the 11,000-plus lawsuits were not meritorious, but the company could not afford the legal fees necessary to defend itself in court. A few months earlier, a Missouri jury awarded a staggering $4.7 billion to over twenty women who said that J&J’s talcum powder caused their cancers. Shortly before trial, ITA settled with the plaintiffs in that case for an undisclosed amount.
Johnson & Johnson claims that its talcum powder is safe and said it plans to appeal this most recent verdict.
Talcum Powder Injuries
Until very recently, talcum powder claims, like many other defective product claims, relied on inductive reasoning. The victim used talcum powder over a long period of time, and the victim developed ovarian cancer. So, the talcum powder must have caused the injury.
Let’s put this in more simplistic terms. Inductive reasoning is a conclusion based on very little observation. For example, if Johnny ate spinach and Johnny threw up, then Johnny must be allergic to spinach. A good Buffalo personal injury lawyer can make a connection like that hold up in court, but it isn’t easy.
But assume that Johnny ate spinach that contained traces of strychnine (rat poison) and he later threw up. That connection, while not absolute, is much stronger.
It turns out that women who used talcum powder were not just using talcum powder. They were probably using talcum powder laced with asbestos. This substance is incredibly toxic. Just one fiber can cause cancer. These fibers are incredibly small. 20,000 of them can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a U.S. penny. Tiny particles like these can easily migrate to a woman’s sensitive reproductive areas, as well as other parts of the body.
The talcum powder-asbestos link is not surprising. These minerals are very similar, so they often come out of the same general area and go through the same general refining process in about the same area.
The real bombshell in this development is Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge. Between 1972 and 2000, J&J executives had access to thousands of documents detailing the chemical properties of talcum powder. These documents repeatedly used words like “rods,” “fiberform,” and other common asbestos euphemisms.
It gets worse. In 1976, J&J told the Food and Drug Administration that no asbestos had ever been detected in any of its talcum powder products. But between 1972 and 1975, at least three different lab reports, which were in the possession of Johnson & Johnson, showed elevated asbestos levels.
How a Buffalo Personal Injury Attorney Overcomes Legal Hurdles
Cancer usually has a very long incubation period. It may be years or even decades before a victim shows environmental cancer symptoms. Additionally, when they see doctors, the physician often misdiagnosis the condition. The statute of limitations is usually only two years in mass tort cases. So, these delays could be a serious problem.
But the longstanding discovery rule tolls the statute of limitations in these cases. Under Minnesota law, the limitation clock does not begin running until the victim/plaintiff:
Knows about the illness, injury, or other condition, and
Connects that condition to the defendant’s conduct or misconduct.
Buffalo personal injury attorneys can use the discovery rule in other contexts as well. Assume Mike takes Drug X in 2018, the company amends the warning label in 2019 (after he stopped taking the drug), he goes to the doctor in 2020, and he sees a TV ad which links Drug X and his condition in 2021. The insurance company may argue that the statute of limitations expired in 2018 (two years after took Drug X). But because of the discovery rule, Mike has until 2023 to file a claim.
The Talcum Powder Lawsuit Process
Most talcum powder, mesothelioma, and other mass tort claims are MDL actions. Multi-District Litigation is a way to consolidate many claims that do not qualify as class actions because their facts are not similar enough.
MDL is great for victim/plaintiffs. One judge controls all the discovery and other pretrial aspects of the case. This judge usually has a great deal of experience with that particular kind of case. Additionally, victim/plaintiffs can pool their resources. It’s almost like one Buffalo personal injury attorney is taking on J&J. Finally, if one case settles, the settlement creates momentum in other negotiations. The dominos start falling the right way.