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California Jury Awards $22 Million in Asbestos Case

A jury in California has awarded $22 million to the estate of a man exposed to asbestos-contaminated paint. The jury award expands the liability of manufacturers supplying talc.

The plaintiff, Richard Booker, worked as a paint maker and was exposed to asbestos-containing talc throughout his career. Booker died in 2016 as a result of mesothelioma.

The lawsuit alleges that Booker was exposed to asbestos while working for Walter N. Boysen Paint Co. and Dexter Midland Chemical Co.

The $22 million award includes $4.6 million in punitive damages and $17.57 million for malice. The jury ruled that Imerys Talc America Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals, both named in the lawsuit, were responsible for the selling, marketing, and distribution of the talc.

The case was heard in the Superior Court of California for Alameda County. The jury ruled that Booker’s mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure in the talc used to manufacture paint during his career.

The jury ruled on the basis of failure to warn, product design defect, and negligence.

Imerys is the largest talc producer in the world. The company insists that its product is safe.

Talc products in the past contained trace amounts of asbestos dust.

Researchers are still debating the safety of talc, a clay mineral containing hydrated magnesium silicate. Talc is used in paint for heat resistance and to prevent oil absorption. It’s also used in talcum powder, insecticides, ceramics, roofing materials, and in the pulp and paper industry.

New regulations require talc to be asbestos-free. The lawsuits being filed today often stem from exposure several decades ago. Most cases involve ovarian cancer, but some involve mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis. Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of cancer.

Booker’s case comes at a time when several companies, including Colgate Palmolive, are being sued for products containing talc, which plaintiffs argue causes ovarian cancer.