Vietnam Vet Awarded Nearly $5 Million For Asbestos-Tainted Old Spice Talc

Legal NewsVeterans

Trial attorneys for Willie McNeal Jr., secured a $4.8 million verdict for the 78-year-old Vietnam War veteran, who alleged his pleural mesothelioma was caused by using Old Spice talcum powder for 22 years. 

Lead attorney for McNeal, Jr., Stuart Purdy, presented evidence in a Los Angeles, CA County court—in what was the first civil jury verdict in Los Angeles County since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020—that established that Old Spice talc supplier, Whittaker Clark & Daniels (WCD), was aware of asbestos contamination in its talc supply. 

Talc and asbestos are minerals that are naturally found in close proximity to each other. When talc is mined, asbestos particles may end up in the crushed talc powder. Even in tiny amounts, when inhaled, asbestos may cause scarring of the lungs. Over the course of many years, the scars may become malignant, leading to lung cancer or mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the lungs. 

WCD at one time was one of the largest suppliers of talc powder for cosmetic products. Evidence in McNeal, Jr.’s lawsuit established that WCD’s North Carolina mine was the site of repeated asbestos contamination in finished talc. 

“While COVID concerns presented unique challenges, our trial court, with the guidance of a very detailed trial plan, maneuvered around those challenges seamlessly,” said Mr. Purdy, per a press release on

“Willie McNeal is an amazing man with a remarkable story who remained steadfast and patient despite the uncertainties and unknowns of the first pandemic trial in Los Angeles. He blazed a trail for many other litigants by showing justice can still be served in these uncertain times. We are happy to have been able to deliver justice for him in a timely manner while simultaneously proving a live trial can be done safely and effectively,” Purdy added. 

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