US lawyer who won $4.7bn talcum powder ruling targets UK next

US lawyer who won $4.7bn talcum powder ruling targets UK next

Mark Lanier
(Credit: Sara Quinnett, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The lawyer who won a $4.7 billion ruling against Johnson & Johnson in the US over claims its talcum powder caused cancer is launching a group action to compensate alleged victims in the UK.

Mark Lanier is one of the founding partners of Lanier, Longstaff, Hedar & Roberts LLP, which has been set up to target corporate wrongdoing that has harmed people on a large scale.

He now believes that there may be thousands of people with ovarian cancer and mesothelioma who can trace their asbestos exposure back to using talc from a variety of manufacturers.

The firm argues that the pharmaceutical giants have known for decades about the presence of asbestos in the talcum powder sold to the mass-consumer market and has failed to act with the interests of consumers in mind.

Mr Lanier previously won $4.7bn for 22 women in the US and their families who alleged that using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and other talc products caused the women to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. The primary ingredient, mineral talc, has been found to contain asbestos, the trial jury heard.

Johnson & Johnson withdrew its talc based products in the US and Canada in 2020 and is ceasing sales in the UK next year, with the company switching to a cornstarch-based formula, which it has described as a “commercial” decision.

Mr Lanier said: “For over 40 years major manufacturers of talc products have covered up evidence of asbestos in its products. With pressure mounting, these companies are finally ceasing production, but this is long overdue.

“Companies have made many millions from the sales of its talc, and we believe there are many more victims, including in the UK, who deserve justice for having their lives cut short by these terrible and incurable cancers, which could so easily have been avoided.”

Mr Lanier and his COO Kevin Roberts recently launched a UK law firm with English barristers Tom Longstaff and Duncan Hedar.

Mr Longstaff said: “We will show that the use of talcum powder materially increased a person’s risk of developing cancer, and we already have access to a number of important sources of information that demonstrate how talcum powder manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and other companies contained, asbestos and that the company had known of that fact for decades.

“This litigation will demonstrate that manufacturers essentially prioritised profit over the health of the users of its products, and we seek justice for the injured victims in the UK.”

Mr Hedar added: “Given the evidence, it is shocking that anyone continues to sell a product known to cause such serious harm and continues to deny all wrongdoing.

“We urge anyone suffering from ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, and who believes that talc products caused their illness, to make contact so that we can make sure appropriate companies are held accountable. Sadly, for some it may be too late but, if a person has died, it is still possible for loved ones who want answers to bring a claim on their behalf.”

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