The first consolidated trial involving claims from four individuals that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products contained asbestos and caused them to develop deadly mesothelioma is underway in New Jersey Superior Court.

Douglas Barden, 65; David Etheridge, 57; D’Angela McNeill-George, 41; and Will Ronning, 46, claim they were exposed to Johnson’s Baby Powder when they were babies. They claim because the talc was contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen, they have peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. The plaintiffs claim that babies are more susceptible to the risks posed by asbestos.

Talc is mined from the earth in much the same proximity and manner as asbestos, a durable and fire-resistant mineral that was widely used in construction, friction and shipbuilding materials. Its use has been restricted in the United States – and banned altogether in more than 60 other countries – because exposure to the microscopic fibers of asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other cancers.

Mesothelioma is a particularly deadly form of cancer. It can take decades to develop but once diagnosed, the disease generally kills within 12 to 24 months.

The plaintiffs’ attorney told jurors during opening statements that Johnson & Johnson was aware that asbestos was present in its talc but failed to warn consumers of the risks its talcum powder products posed. Now, plaintiffs allege, the company is failing to take responsibility.

The wives of Barden, Etheridge and Ronning are also named in the lawsuit, which was filed in March 2017.

Beasley Allen lawyer Sharon Zinns leads the firm’s mesothelioma litigation team. She is investigating claims involving mesothelioma and lung cancer resulting from asbestos exposure.

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