Expert Witness in Mesothelioma Trial Says Asbestos in Talc is Unavoidable

For years, almost all mesothelioma lawsuits were filed against asbestos companies that supplied insulation, equipment, brake linings and other products associated with workplace exposure to the carcinogenic material. But a growing number of consumers — and especially women — have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases after years of using talc-based powders as part of their daily hygiene regimen. Though talc companies deny it, last week a renowned materials scientist told a California jury that asbestos contamination of talc is unavoidable.

Jury Hears Why Talc Use Can Lead to Mesothelioma

Though talc-based powders have been used for decades, testimony from William Longo of Materials Analytical Services LLC indicates that the mineral is inherently dangerous because of its close proximity to asbestos in nature. Longo is often called as an expert witness in mesothelioma lawsuits because of his knowledge of minerals. 

Last week he testified in a mesothelioma lawsuit filed by Linda Zimmerman against Whittaker Clark & Daniels, Inc., a company that provided talc to many consumer product companies. He explained that asbestos veins occur in nature either above or below layers of talc, and as a result it is nearly 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, explaining that the miners are either digging through asbestos to reach the talc or using dynamite that combines the two minerals. “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.”

Mesothelioma Jury Told that Talc Companies Knew About Asbestos Contamination in the 1960s

At issue in the trial is whether Whittaker Clark & Daniels’ management was negligent in its handling of asbestos and the associated risk of mesothelioma. The jury was shown a company memo addressing the issue which said, “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.”

Zimmerman blames her mesothelioma on having used a talc-base product every day for 64 years, and the talc supplier of hiding the dangers. She was diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease in 2018. The company’s attorneys are arguing that her illness was the result of second-hand exposure from family members who worked with asbestos.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, determining where and how you were exposed is important to understanding your disease and moving forward. For assistance, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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