According to Mesothelioma.net, last week, a renowned materials scientist told a California jury that asbestos contamination of talc is unavoidable.
William Longo, often called as an expert witness in mesothelioma lawsuits because of his knowledge of minerals, is with the company, Materials Analytical Services, LLC.
In a mesothelioma–a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by the inhalation of asbestos particulates–trial that pitted plaintiff Linda Zimmerman v. Whittaker Clark & Daniels, Inc., a supplier of raw talc to many consumer product companies, Longo, testified that asbestos veins occur in nature either above or below layers of talc. In light of this, it’s virtually impossible for miners extracting talc to avoid contaminating it with asbestos fibers.
“It’s actually growing in the talc mine itself,” Longo told the jury, per Mesothelioma.com. Longo added in his expert testimony that the miners are either digging through asbestos to reach the talc or using dynamite that combines the two minerals.
Longo said during the trial, “You’re dealing with a microscopic mineral. You cannot avoid it. And they’ve never been successful, in my opinion, in avoiding where the accessory minerals are.”
Talc, so long as it’s pure, does not pose a risk to human health when used in powder form. However, Longo’s testimony suggests “the mineral is inherently dangerous because of its close proximity to asbestos in nature,” Mesothelioma.com concludes.
According to Law360.com, yesterday, Whittaker Clark & Daniels Inc. reached a deal to end Zimmerman’s suit. Details of the settlement are confidential; none have been disclosed. Zimmerman’s trial, held in Los Angeles County Superior Court, was only the second in-person mesothelioma case since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Zimmerman, who claims to have used talcum products virtually every day for 64 years, alleges that she developed mesothelioma because of her daily talc use. Her attorney accuses the companies that sold the talc-based products (including Chanel and Avon) to her as well as the supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels, Inc of hiding the dangers of talc powder.
Mesothelioma can often take decades to manifest. In fact, Zimmerman wasn’t officially diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease until 2018. After her diagnoses, Zimmerman, a longtime school teacher, experienced an excruciating 10-hour-plus surgery. Subsequently, she received daily radiation treatments from mid-October to mid-November 2018.
Zimmerman, who due to her immunosuppressed condition could not appear at trial, has said that she had no idea that talc products could be dangerous. According to Law360.com reporting, Whitaker, the talc supplier, actually supplied asbsestos in the mid 20th century. And in a 1971 New York Times exposé about asbestos in cosmetic talc, a consultant advised the company to blend its New York state-sourced, tremolite asbestos-containing talc to reduce levels below the limits detectable by machines at the time.
Was Whittaker Clark & Daniels’ management negligent in not disclosing the risk of mesothelioma? A company memo seems damning. Per Mesothelioma.com, it reads, “Due to impending FDA regulations regarding the alleged content of asbestos in talc, we believe you will be besieged by a new assortment of questions and requests for definitions from our customers. We believe it will be best if you do not attempt to feel [sic] these questions … this is a very delicate situation.”
However, attorneys for the talc supplier argued in trial that Zimmerman’s illness was the result of second-hand exposure from family members who worked with asbestos.