Jacqueline Becker moved to Hawaii from Australia nearly two decades ago and was enjoying life on the Big Island as an equestrian and show rider. But her life took a devastating turn last February when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and other internal organs. The cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a mineral that is mined from the earth and used to strengthen and help fireproof various building materials.

“It’s been a big, horrible experience,” she told Hawaii News Now.

Becker couldn’t have guessed when she was exposed to asbestos. But in October, just eight months after her diagnosis, Johnson & Johnson announced it was recalling one lot, or about 33,000 bottles, of its iconic Johnson’s baby powder after testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed traces of asbestos in the talcum powder. Like asbestos, talc is mined from the earth in similar fashion and, often, in close proximity to asbestos.

Many companies pulled all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder from their shelves as a precaution, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating whether Johnson & Johnson had misled the public about the possibility its talcum powder products may be contaminated with asbestos.

Becker used Johnson’s Baby Powder liberally on her body to help protect her skin from chaffing during horse-riding. A month after the FDA alerted consumers about the recall, Becker filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in Circuit Court. Hers is one of thousands of lawsuits alleging exposure to Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products causes cancer, including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

Beasley Allen lawyers Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell are heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma; as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.

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