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Nursing homes will be in crosshairs of Senate hearing on abuse next week

Posted by | Nursing Home Neglect | No Comments

The Senate Finance Committee is planning to hold a hearing on nursing home abuse next week, aiming to increase pressure on the industry to address safety issues.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) — chairman of the committee and a longtime nursing home watchdog — announced the planned hearing Wednesday. Witnesses at the March 6 meeting will include Antoinette Bacon, national elder justice coordinator with the Department of Justice, and Kate Goodrich, M.D., chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Patricia Blank — the daughter of an Iowa nursing home resident who allegedly died from dehydration and neglect in 2017 — also will testify. Nursing home advocates will be closely watching testimony Wednesday, March 6, which is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. Eastern Time. A broadcast of the event can be live-streamed here.

Politico reported Thursday that the Grassley was “horrified” by recent reports that a mentally incapacitated woman was raped and impregnated by a worker at a Phoenix nursing facility. The senior senator has expressed concerns previously that nursing homes are being allowed to remain in CMS programs, even after allegedly putting patients at risk, and wants the agency to more aggressively monitor the field, Politico noted. In outlining his Finance Committee agenda to Congress in January, Grassley said nursing home oversight will be a key focus.

“These outcomes are unacceptable,” Grassley wrote in a letter to CMS last fall, referencing the death of 87-year-old Timely Mission resident Virginia Olthoff, which earned the facility a $77,000 fine from the feds. “I remain concerned about CMS’ efforts to ensure quality nursing home care to our most vulnerable citizens.”



Imerys Talc Claims Bankruptcy, J&J Ovarian Cancer Claims Continue

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Imerys Talc America, supplier to J&J, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy after spending tens of millions of dollars to defend itself and to settle J&J talc Ovarian Cancer Claims

Three Forks, INFacing about 14,000 asbestos-talc cases claiming that talc causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, Imerys Talc America has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Court records indicate that defending a single case can cost Imerys $4 million and some juries have awarded damages up to $2.75 million against the company. Imerys is the sole supplier of cosmetic talc to Johnson & Johnson.

Reuters reported that a rising settlement threat and defense costs have instigated Imerys to file the bankruptcy protection claim. As well, insurers are growing reluctant to provide coverage for the talc cases, said a company representative. Imerys Talc has already settled a number of cases for undisclosed amounts. One lawsuit (and the first case that associated asbestos in talc to ovarian cancer) resulted in a jury ordering J&J to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who said J&J’s baby powder caused ovarian cancer –of which Imerys settled prior to that verdict. And $117 million was awarded to a man who blamed Imerys and Johnson & Johnson for his mesothelioma.

ImerysTalc America produces in its mines about half of the country’s talc supply. Imerys talc is also used in many other products, from foods to adhesives to automotive parts. Lawsuits claim that Imerys and J&J knew for decades that talc contained asbestos but failed to warn consumers of its risks or replace it with less-toxic cornstarch.

Court documents reveal that Imerys made efforts through litigation to keep its talc from being listed as potentially carcinogenic. By 2006 the company lost interest in proving the safety of its product: an email by an Imerys executive shown to jurors by plaintiffs’ lawyers said that “the horse has already left the barn.” But the company has not acknowledged in court that its talc was tainted or dangerous.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows companies to ward off creditors, while they can reorganize, continue operating and potentially resolve liabilities. While a California judge on February 14 asked jurors not to speculate on why the talc supplier is no longer in the case, Giorgio La Motta, President, Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont, and Imerys Talc Canada said that “it is simply not in the best interests of our stakeholders to litigate these claims in perpetuity and incur millions of dollars in projected legal costs to defend these cases.” Imerys intends to operate its three locations as usual.

How Imerys Bankruptcy Affects J&J Talc Lawsuits

Under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Imerys officials will be able to negotiate payouts with those who have sued them.

When a company files bankruptcy under Chapter 11, it can set up a trust that would handle and defend it against any future claims. According to CNBC, Imerys said it plans to use bankruptcy to establish a trust to pay personal injury claims, a strategy typically used by companies facing asbestos claims. The trust can deal with current talc cases and any future claims.

However, this filing is typically used as a way to protect against billion-dollar lawsuits: it allows cases to be tried under a single judge and plaintiffs are pressured to reach a lower settlement. For instance, Johns Mansville Corp. in 1982 faced unprecedented liability for asbestos injury claims and was the first company facing asbestos litigation to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. By 1988 the company emerged from bankruptcy and founded the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, according to

Independent trustees may decide how the money is split among talc plaintiffs and a trust could continue to operate for several years to oversee negotiation and payments of settlements. When the company leaves bankruptcy, current and future litigation claims will be channeled to the trust rather than Imerys, which will then be free from future talc lawsuits.

Imerys Talc America and Imerys Talc Vermont has listed its combined assets as $500 million and liabilities of as much as $100 million, according to the bankruptcy filing, and the Chapter 11 process is expected to end by 2020. Bloomberg Intelligence litigation analyst Holly Froum said the bankruptcy will probably have a negative impact on Johnson & Johnson in thousands of talc lawsuits as Imerys won’t be able to contribute much capital to potential settlements.

NTL member LaBarron Boone helps secure $151M in Ford Explorer rollover trial

Posted by | Automobile Accident | No Comments

A Dallas County, Alabama, jury found defendant Ford Motor Company at fault for a rollover crash of a 1998 Ford Explorer that left Travaris “Tre” Smith paralyzed and awarded Smith $151,791,000. The verdict includes $51,791,000 in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages. The jury agreed with Smith in finding that Ford failed to meet its own safety guidelines for the Explorer’s rollover resistance requirement and attempted to cover up the vehicle’s defective design. Beasley Allen lawyers and National Trial Lawyers member LaBarron Boone, Greg Allen and Kendall Dunson along with Bill Gamble of Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Jones, LLC represented Smith.

“We represent a 24-year-old young man who cannot be left alone to care for himself in any way,” said Dunson. “This verdict represents justice for Tre and his family. Thanks to a courageous jury he will now be able to access basic necessities within his home and have access to the care he needs.”

“Tre had the misfortune of riding in a vehicle Ford knew could and did hurt him, but the jury’s verdict will allow him to reclaim some level of hope for a better future, with less dependence on others,” said Boone. “Ford failed Tre and so many other consumers. The jurors in Dallas County held Ford accountable for yet another tragedy in a decades-long saga of the company’s efforts to cover up the shoddy design and its refusal to adequately address the problems.”

In August 2015, Smith was a passenger in the 1998 Ford Explorer traveling in Dallas County. The driver swerved to miss an animal that appeared to be crossing in the vehicle’s path, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The action is called an accident avoidance maneuver and because the Explorer’s design is prone to rolling over, especially during these types of emergencies rather than sliding out like other similar vehicles, the Explorer carrying Smith rolled over two times before landing on the shoulder of the road, right side up. As the vehicle was rolling over, Smith was knocked unconscious and his spine was snapped, leaving him paralyzed and forever changing his life.

Boone believes jurors also intended to send a message to Ford that destroying safety documents in an effort to hide critical and unfavorable evidence will not be tolerated.

“Ford should have spent money redesigning this dangerous SUV model rather than paying huge amounts to defend the cases,” said Allen.  “One expert has been paid over $75 million over the last 16 years to defend Ford in accidents like Mr. Smith’s.”

The 1998 Ford Explorer has been at the center of two historic safety recalls in the U.S. due to its defective design. The model consistently failed the Consumer Union testing because of its propensity to roll over, and company engineers advised Ford it needed to change the design, but Ford refused. Instead, it opted to change the way the product was tested, moving it from a real-world setting to a computer-based simulation called ADAMS. Yet, Ford destroyed the original input and output data obtained through the ADAMS testing, claiming it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain.

“We have seen bad conduct before but the egregiousness of Ford’s scheme to mislead the jury was stunning. Ford claimed the ADAMS data that would have proved the safety of this vehicle was destroyed because it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain. We provided proof that something as basic as a $100 thumb drive could have easily preserved the data,” Boone said.

At trial, Plaintiffs also explained that in its efforts to resist redesigning the Explorer, Ford altered less expensive components such as air pressure and tire sizes but to no avail. The defective design remains in the stream of commerce decades later and continues to seriously injure and kill consumers.

The case is Travaris D. Smith v. Ford Motor Company, et al, 27-CV-2016-900273.00 in the Circuit Court of Dallas County, Alabama.



Victim wanted husband to get help, sisters testify

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BEVERLY — Edith Black-Scherer “had twinkling, beautiful blue eyes,” her oldest sister, Lynne Black, said.

Along with her good looks, there was intelligence. “She was the smartest of us all,” recalled her other sister, Heidi Smyth.

Smyth told jurors how the baby of the family, “Edie,” attended Marblehead schools, graduated from Northeastern University, got a master’s degree from Boston College, had a successful career in educational and health care administration, and even wrote a book.

Black-Scherer was also kind.

So even as Axel Scherer, always a bit arrogant and a bit of a “know-it-all,” according to her sisters, began growing more abrasive and unpredictable, his wife tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to accept help.

Now, more than three years after Black-Scherer, 45, was found wedged under a bed, with a pillow jammed between her face and the bedframe, inside the couple’s Beverly home, Scherer, 48, is standing trial on a first-degree murder charge in Salem Superior Court. Jurors heard opening statements Wednesday.

Smyth recalled pleading with her brother-in-law, whose anger only grew after Black-Scherer had him committed to Bayridge Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Lynn, for three days in 2014.

“Edie wants to help you,” Smyth told Scherer. “No, she doesn’t,” Scherer responded.

He had already moved out of the couple’s Beverly home, blaming his wife for “micromanaging” him and for setbacks in his career as an electrical engineer, after she had encouraged him to seek a promotion that did not work out well. He would then file for divorce.

A year later, after another effort to get him some help for what had been diagnosed as bipolar disorder, Black-Scherer was so concerned for her husband that she insisted he stay at the home they had once shared, in a guest bedroom, while he attended a day program at Lahey Hospital.

Within days, she would be on life support, pronounced dead five days after Scherer strangled her with a drawstring from her sweatshirt and put a pillow over her face, Gubitose said.

He admitted to police that he killed her, but blames bipolar disorder.

Prosecutor James Gubitose told jurors, however, that Scherer, despite being diagnosed with mental illness, fully understood what he was doing — and why.

“The defendant killed his wife, Edie Black-Scherer, because of rage and resentment,” Gubitose said in his opening statement. “That’s the reason he did it, not because he was mentally ill.”

There was no indication, contrary to what defense experts are expected to say on the stand, that Scherer was in the throes of a psychotic episode, Gubitose said. The prosecutor noted that, in an interview with police shortly afterward, Scherer was “lucid,” able to understand their questions and provide answers.

Days before the killing, Gubitose told jurors, Black-Scherer had discovered that her estranged husband had lied to her about going to the doctor’s office that day. She drove to his Broughton Drive apartment and saw his car in the driveway, but got no response.

She called Beverly police to conduct a “well-being” check, Patrolman Hal Geary testified.

“He wasn’t happy,” Gubitose told the jury.

At Lahey, he was evaluated. Gubitose said records will show there was no evidence of psychosis or mania.

The following Monday, while their two young sons were at an afterschool program, Scherer killed his wife, Gubitose said, calling the crime premeditated.

Scherer’s lawyer, Michael Phelan, painted a different picture, of a man whose decline began a couple of years before Black-Scherer’s death.

“In 2013, life is good,” Phelan told jurors. Scherer, originally from Germany, was a highly-paid electrical engineer for Cadence, a multinational software development firm. He had a beautiful home on Penny Lane, a beautiful wife, nice cars, and two children.

But toward the end of that year, people around him could tell Scherer was having problems. He suffered from insomnia, and began speaking in a monotone voice. He went on the antidepressant Zoloft, as his primary care doctor explored possible diagnoses.

Over the next few months, Phelan said, Scherer also began acting erratically at work, walking in on meetings he wasn’t invited to join, and insisting on changing light bulbs, a task far beneath his job title.

Then, in September 2014, Scherer got into a verbal altercation with an employee at a cellphone store in the Northshore Mall, Phelan told jurors, and was banned from returning there.

Phelan said it was shortly after that incident that Scherer’s wife had him committed to Bayridge Hospital, where, the lawyer said, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic and manic behavior. He was prescribed Risperdal, an anti-psychotic medication.

Over the course of the next year, Scherer would be placed on different medications — always reluctantly.

And after being taken to Lahey the week prior to his wife’s death, Phelan said his client still did not want help, rejecting an in-patient stay in favor of a day program.

Phelan said his expert, Salem psychologist Mark Schaefer, will testify that Scherer suffers from bipolar disorder with psychotic traits.

Because Scherer is relying on what is colloquially known as an insanity defense, it is up to prosecutors Gubitose and Susan Dolhun to prove to jurors that Scherer was, in fact, capable of knowing right from wrong and able to control his behavior.

Smyth and Black told jurors that Scherer was highly intelligent, but also stubborn, a trait they had seen early in their sister’s relationship with him. Still, they got along with him.

Smyth said she and her brother-in-law shared a love of fine wine and gourmet food. But one day, not long after Scherer’s 2014 hospitalization, she brought up the subject of getting help. As a registered nurse for more than three decades, Smyth had contacts in the medical field, she told him.

“I don’t need any help,” she said Scherer told her. “I’m fine.”

As he spoke, he raised his hands.

“I got nervous and backed away,” Smyth said.

Besides Black-Scherer’s sisters and Geary, the jury of nine women and seven men heard from Sgt. Dan Brown, who was on his way to get his utility belt for a paid detail on the afternoon of Nov. 16, 2015, when Scherer came up behind him in a rear doorway of the Beverly police station.

“He said he wanted to report a crime,” Brown testified. Scherer seemed agitated, and was disheveled and sweating profusely, Brown testified.

Brown, who did not yet have his radio or anything with which he could protect himself, led Scherer back outside to the parking lot.

“I asked him what it was he wanted to report. He said it was something serious. He said he had just killed his wife.”

Stunned, Brown at first thought perhaps there had been an accident.

“No, no accident,” Scherer told the officer.

Then Scherer put his hands out in front of himself and “made a motion like he was strangling somebody,” said Brown, pantomiming the gesture.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.



Judge to allow controversial evidence in Roundup trial

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A federal judge overseeing lawsuits over Roundup weed killer is tentatively allowing evidence that defense attorneys wanted excluded, Reuters reports. US District Judge Vince Chhabria says attorneys may introduce some evidence that Monsanto tried to ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators, calling it “super relevant.” Plaintiff’s attorneys say corporate misconduct is inextricably linked to their claims that glyphosate, a chemical in what Reuters calls “the world’s most widely used herbicide,” can cause cancer. According to Reuters:

Under Chhabria’s order, that evidence would be allowed only if glyphosate was found to have caused plaintiff Edwin Hardeman’s cancer and the trial proceeded to a second phase to determine Bayer’s liability.

The order applies to Hardeman’s case, which is scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 25, and two other upcoming cases. There are some 620 Roundup cases before Chhabria, out of more than 9,300 nationwide.


Tests and Studies For and Against J&J Talc – Jury Still Out

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. By Jane Mundy

Studies and tests over several decades indicate that J&J talc did contain asbestos, but other studies have found otherwise or remain inconclusive.

Santa Clara, CADespite a number of asbestos-talc lawsuits and studies to the contrary, Johnson & Johnson still stands by its talcum powder, asserting it doesn’t cause mesothelioma or ovarian cancer because their product sold to consumers never contained asbestos. J&J says plaintiffs are using attorney-driven science along with faulty studies. On the other hand, plaintiffs have brought scientific evidence showing studies linking talc exposure to cancer, adding that the giant pharma company knew the link for decades. As for the FDA, it’s still on the fence.

Why are juries handing out billion-dollar settlements if the evidence isn’t based on fact? Recently, Reuters dug deep and uncovered documents going back to the 1970s indicating J&J knew its talc contained asbestos. However, although studies have proven the link between long-term use of J&J’s talc and ovarian cancer, it is not yet determined that talcum powder is a definite cause. And the New York Times concurred with Reuters, which said that Johnson & Johnson executives and other affiliated parties were aware from the 1970s to the 2000s that the company’s talc materials sometimes tested positive for asbestos.

J&J said that there is no evidence Johnson & Johnson baby powder contains asbestos now. But perhaps it did a few decades ago. And another argument that talc did contain asbestos is that other carcinogens have been found. As late as 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics group hounded J&J to eliminate probable human carcinogens from all its products. The Guardian reported that, after three years of petitions, negative publicity and a boycott threat, the company agreed in 2012 to eliminate the ingredients 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde from all products by 2015. (Why would it take six years?)

Johnson & Johnson Tests and Studies

J&J meeting minutes from 1974 obtained by Reuters show that J&J researchers tested talc to demonstrate that some cancerous fibers were OK! They put baby powder on a doll and sampled the air around it to determine how much powder would float up and stand to be inhaled (asbestos in lungs can cause mesothelioma). The researchers determined that exposure would be below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) limit of five fibers per milliliter of air. Not only was it a bad cover-up, J&J did its own testing rather than an unbiased third party.

A 1970s study of almost 2,000 Italian talc miners told the researchers the results J&J wanted, and J&J hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal. “The study was proposed by William Ashton, J&J’s longtime talc supply chief, who had miners’ medical records compiled by an Italian physician, who also happened to control the country’s talc exports,” reported Reuters. But Reuters uncovered reports from 1957 and 1958 by a consulting lab describing contaminants in talc from J&J’s Italian supplier as fibrous tremolite, which is classified as asbestos and is linked to mesothelioma.

Studies Indicating J&J Talc Contained Asbestos

Several studies have shown that asbestos is – or was — present in talc. Here are a few conclusions:

In December 2018, Health Canada stated that using talc powder on the genital area increased the risk for ovarian cancer. Additionally, they are considering warning labels on products.

Two case-control studies published in 2016–the African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES) and the New England study—suggest that talcum powder causes the body to develop inflammation, which is known to potentially cause the growth of cancer cells.

The Internal Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in 2014 concluded that “a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma.” (No brand other than J&J has been linked to asbestos.)

The Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium in 2013 found a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer with long-term use of talcum powder products. And in 2016 the journal Epidemiology published a study that showed women using talcum powder to dust their genitals also faced a 33 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Other studies dating from the 1930s can be found here.

FDA and Asbestos Talc

In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), which is the trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care products industry, issued voluntary guidelines stating that all talc used in cosmetic products in the US should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos according to their standards. In 1996 the U.S. National Toxicology Program determined that talc causes tumors in animals, even without asbestos present and it listed talc as a dangerous substance. Still, the FDA refused to impose regulations on cosmetic talc products. The FDA’s non-action is because talc is considered a cosmetic and as such, does not have to undergo FDA review or approval (with the exception of color additives) before they go on the market.

According to the FDA,”Cosmetics must be properly labeled, and they must be safe for use by consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use. Cosmetic companies have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products and ingredients, but the law does not require them to share their safety information with FDA.”

“FDA monitors for potential safety problems with cosmetic products on the market and takes action when needed to protect public health. Before we can take such action against a cosmetic, we need sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use.”

Because FDA’s cosmetic laboratories do not have the equipment needed to perform the analyses, it contracted with AMA Analytical Services to conduct a laboratory survey which ran from September 28, 2009 to September 27, 2010. AMA contacted nine suppliers to request samples of its talc. (Shouldn’t there be more control than simply trusting the manufacturer? What if company XX sent company ZZ’s talc as a sample?) The FDA said that the survey found no asbestos fibers in any of the samples containing talc. The results were limited, however, by the fact that only four talc suppliers submitted samples and by the number of products tested. The manufacturers did not submit to the lab talc that was on the market a few decades ago.

Ford Rollover Case Proceeds Without Sanction Against Driver

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Posted Jan. 29, 2019, 11:22 AM

Ford Motor Co. won’t get a helpful jury instruction in a case where an insurer destroyed an injured man’s car after a rollover, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled Jan. 28.

A jury shouldn’t be told it can infer Ford has the stronger case just because Patrick Calhoune signed his 2006 Ford Mustang GT over to his insurance company, the court said. Neither he nor the insurer took steps to preserve the car after the accident.


Carnival Cruise Lines Must Face Brain Injury Claims

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Posted Jan. 29, 2019, 10:00 AM

Carnival Corp. must face a jury over whether an allegedly negligently maintained water pipe on a cruise ship caused a man’s traumatic brain injury, a federal court in Florida ruled.

Cruise lines frequently seek to avoid liability for slippery decks, steep stairways, and similar risks on cruise ships by arguing that they are “open and obvious” dangers.

Carnival Corp. argued that the puddle in Richard Ward’s stateroom on the Conquest, caused by a broken pipe in the ceiling, was such…


Family sues man they say left their daughter to die on highway

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The family of a woman found dead on I-95 in Florida last week is suing the man who claims she fell to her death off the back of his motorcycle on their first date. The Florida Highway Patrol says it is still investigating the death of 33-year-old Jennifer St. Clair of Fort Lauderdale. According to The Daily Beast, St. Clair’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Broward County accusing 34-year-old Miles McChesney of being impaired by alcohol when he was operating the motorcycle that St. Clair is believed to have fallen from. McChesney allegedly told investigators he would only talk to them if he’s guaranteed full immunity. St. Clair’s body is said to have been almost unrecognizable after being struck by several cars on the interstate.


New Reuters Report Reveals J&J knew its Talcum Powder link to Asbestos and Cancer

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Documents showing that Johnson & Johnson knew its talc contained asbestos have been unearthed by Reuters and made public, which will likely damage J&J.

Los Angeles, CAAfter reviewing documents and testimony from 1971 to the early 2000s, a new report by Reuters determined that Johnson & Johnson’s executives, mine managers, doctors and lawyers were aware the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. This report reflects many Johnson & Johnson lawsuits alleging these talcum powder products caused women to get ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers.

Even more insidious, Reuters found that J&J managers, over these 40 or so years, discussed the problem but they did not disclose it to regulators or the public. J&J responded by stating, “the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory”, which may be absurd in itself. The report did, however, cause J&J stock to fall just over 10 percent on Friday, December 14.

Johnson & Johnson argued that the Reuters article is wrong in three key areas, according to CNBC.

  • “The article ignores that thousands of tests by J&J, regulators, leading independent labs, and academic institutions have repeatedly shown that our talc does not contain asbestos.
  • “The article ignores that J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the U.S. FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades.
  • “We have also made our cosmetic talc mines and processed talc available to regulators for testing. Regulators have tested both, and they have always found our talc to be asbestos-free,” said a J&J spokesperson.

But in an internal memo that Reuters revealed, J&J managers said that, “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation…This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.”

As for tests by academic institutions, an article in the Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology (1979) reported a “significant increase” in “respiratory cancer mortality” among miners. And data published in 1988 determined that at least one of the workers died of mesothelioma . A New Jersey jury in April 2018 concluded that J&J and Imerys officials (the world’s leading talc producer and J&J talc provider) knew for years their talc contained trace amounts of asbestos.

As for leading academic institutions, a 1970s study of almost 2,000 Italian talc miners shows that J&J commissioned and paid for the study, told the researchers the results it wanted, and hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal. “The study was proposed by William Ashton, J&J’s longtime talc supply chief, who had miners’ medical records compiled by an Italian physician, who also happened to control the country’s talc exports,” reported Reuters.

As for independent lab testing, Reuters found 1957 and 1958 reports by a consulting lab describing contaminants in talc from J&J’s Italian supplier as fibrous tremolite, which is classified as asbestos. Inhaling its fibers can lead to asbestosis ,lung cancer and both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Unfortunately, a number of previous Johnson & Johnson asbestos-talc lawsuits were denied because the plaintiff had to have burden of proof – access to confidential J&J documents were denied. Now, however, J&J has been ordered to share thousands of pages of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents with lawyers for almost 12,000 plaintiffs– including thousands of women with ovarian cancer — who allege that J&J’s talc caused their cancers.

Possibly thanks to Reuters unearthing these documents, plaintiffs and their attorneys will be able to further make their case and win their asbestos-talc lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.