According to a press release written by Worthington & Caron, one of the firms that represented Mr. Depoian, the verdict “…is believed to be the largest award on record for a mesothelioma claim linked to asbestos-contaminated cosmetic talc.”
Depoian was also represented by Jay Stuemke of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett.
Mr. Depoian was first diagnosed with mesothelioma in May of 2015. He attributed his condition to exposure to airborne talc particles in his father’s barbershop; as well as his continued personal use of the product over the course of several decades.
The brands of cosmetic talc that Depoian claims to have used include Old Spice, Clubman, King’s Men and Mennen Shave Talc. The cause of his cancer was believed to be linked to the presence of asbestos particles in the talc powder.
According to the FDA, the risk of talc being contaminated with asbestos is a legitimate concern; due to the fact that both minerals tend to occur close to one another in the earth. Nevertheless, the FDA “considers it unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos.”
In response to reports received by the FDA of talc potentially contaminated with asbestos; the agency contracted an independent laboratory to screen samples of cosmetic talc for asbestos contamination between September 28, 2009 and September 27, 2010.
This study failed to discover the presence of asbestos contamination in the samples tested. However, the FDA acknowledges that the study was limited.
On its website, the FDA said “The results were limited, however, by the fact that only four talc suppliers submitted samples and by the number of products tested….while FDA finds these results informative, they do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.”
According to court documents, the jury found that one brand of talc in particular (Whittaker, Clark & Daniels) had marketed itself as asbestos free, despite the fact that it had failed to perform the proper testing to verify that claim.
This verdict comes on the heels of a number of highly publicized product liability verdicts against Johnson & Johnson, in which Plaintiffs have claimed that long term use of the company’s talcum powder resulted in the development of ovarian cancer.
As recently as October 27, another jury awarded a California woman more than $70 million for her suit; alleging her ovarian cancer was caused by the product.
In an article by The National Law Review, it claims there are more than 1,700 lawsuits pending for related claims. These significant verdicts may indicate a tough legal fight ahead for the pharmaceutical giant.