Talc Supplier Settles Teacher’s Cancer Suit Midtrial

Talc supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels Inc. has reached a deal to end a California teacher’s suit alleging her mesothelioma was a result of the asbestos-tainted talc it supplied to makers of talcum powder.

Attorneys for both longtime California teacher Linda Zimmerman and Whittaker confirmed Tuesday they reached a deal to resolve Zimmerman’s claims yet did not disclose details of the confidential settlement.

Zimmerman’s in-person trial started last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, with claims that the talc supplied to various brands by Whittaker contained asbestos, causing Zimmerman to contract mesothelioma.

In the suit, Zimmerman said she had used powders sold by a number of companies since 1954 and had no inkling they could be dangerous until she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2018. She alleged that the companies got their talc from Whittaker.

Whittaker, a supplier of minerals, colors and chemicals, actually sold asbestos from the 1940s to the 1960s, and evidence would show that after a 1971 New York Times exposé about asbestos in cosmetic talc, a consultant advised the company to blend its New York state-sourced, tremolite asbestos-containing talc to reduce levels below the limits detectable by machines at the time.

As the trial began, Whittaker’s attorney told the jury the company had no discernible role in getting the powders into Zimmerman’s hand, as it did not mine or mill the talc and did not manufacture, label or sell the cosmetics she used. The company also argued that Zimmerman could have been exposed as a child, as the factory where her stepfather worked made asbestos products.

On Friday, a materials scientist for Zimmerman told the court that miners digging up talc are often unable to avoid contaminating their talc with veins of asbestos that can sit nearby, leading to the asbestos getting into consumer products.

Law360: https://www.law360.com/retail/articles/1378910

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