Talc Litigation

J.W. Marriott
Washington, DC

Over the past 24 months, there has been an avalanche of new cases involving allegations that there were measurable concentrations of asbestos in talc and that those fibers were allegedly responsible for causing mesothelioma. As has been claimed for 20 years, plaintiff experts often stated that any exposure to asbestos above background could be causal (e.g., "every fiber counts") or that “every fiber contributes to the disease.” Defendants claim that this is inaccurate and irrelevant since there is ample information that no measurable concentrations of genuine asbestos fibers over 5 um were detected in bulk samples of talc of the era. Interestingly, defendants have been losing a significant number of cases and juries have, at times, concluded that huge awards were appropriate. How can this seemingly “implausible” legal conflict over a product that was historically considered harmless have happened, and where is it headed?

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