Talc exposure lawsuit after mesothelioma death ends with $15 million compensation for deceased engineer's family


According to the lawsuit, Barone worked at a General Electric plant in Massachusetts from 1965 to 1967. During this time

While Barone was working at the plant, General Electric purchased hundreds of thousands of pounds of talc from International Talc Co., a company that was acquired by Vanderbilt a few years later. However, the lawsuit alleged that the talc, used to make phenolic molding compounds, was contaminated with asbestos.

Barone's wife claimed the mining company knew about the asbestos and kept the information secret from regulators and customers. Given the long latency period between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma, Barone did not discover the injury until decades later, leading to a slow and painful death, the lawsuit says.

After deliberating for just two hours, a jury in Connecticut ordered Vanderbilt to pay the Barone family $15 million in damages. However, the jury also found that the mining company acted with reckless indifference and ruled that the company must also pay punitive damages. The amount of those damages will be decided at a later date.

Lawsuits over cancer caused by talcum powder

This is the second talc asbestos lawsuit Vanderbilt has lost since early 2023. A previous ruling against the company resulted in a $20 million jury verdict for another mesothelioma death last year.

The ruling comes as Johnson & Johnson continues to fight more than 70,000 lawsuits over baby powder and shower-to-shower products that involve similar allegations that raw talc ingredients were contaminated with asbestos particles, causing injuries to consumers after years of inhaling the powder or applying it to their bodies. While most of the lawsuits involve women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using it on their genitals, a smaller number involve users who were diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson was also awarded several large damages because the jury found that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risks of asbestos exposure from talc. However, instead of warning about the risks or removing talc from baby powder and shower-to-shower, the company continued to promote the use of these products by adult women.

Rather than negotiate an out-of-court settlement, Johnson & Johnson has previously made several attempts to force the dispute through the U.S. bankruptcy process. The company transferred all of its liability for failing to warn about the talcum powder-ovarian cancer link to a subsidiary and then had that subsidiary file for bankruptcy protection. Although courts had previously rejected two such motions, the company recently announced a new $6.5 billion settlement offer in the talcum powder-ovarian cancer case, which plaintiffs' lawyers flatly rejected.

The plan does not address talcum powder-related lawsuits related to mesothelioma injuries, but the company says it has already settled 95% of those claims.