A LAW firm that won a landmark £4billion lawsuit over “cancer-causing” talcum powder is launching action to compensate victims in the UK.
It comes after the makers of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder were ordered to shell out billions to 22 women after asbestos in its products allegedly gave them ovarian cancer.
A lawyer who won £4bn ruling against Johnson & Johnson in US over cancer-causing talc to bring first group action in UKCredit: Alamy
Lawyer Mark Lanier, right, with plaintiff Gail Ingham and attorneys Lee Cirsch and Eric Holland following the 2021 verdict against Johnson & JohnsonCredit: AP:Associated Press
Lawyer Mark Lanier won the case, and has now co-founded Lanier, Longstaff, Hedar & Roberts LLP – which has been set up to target corporate wrongdoing that has harmed people on a large scale.
There are an estimated 41,000 people with ovarian cancer in the UK and a further 2,700 diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
So the lawyers believe there may be thousands of victims 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 have failed to act.
They claim that by continuing to sell and market these products, thousands of people in the UK could have been needlessly exposed to harmful fibres of asbestos.
That exposure may have caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma – an incurable cancer linked directly to asbestos.
The claims include allegations that talc manufacturers breached their duty of care to consumers.
Mr Lanier previously won $4.7bn (£4.1bn) 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.
Banker Stephen Lanzo, 46, was awarded £21million from Johnson & Johnson in 2018 after claiming his lifelong use of talc contributed to his mesothelioma diagnosis in 2016.
Talc manufacturers are removing most products from the market, with Johnson & Johnson withdrawing its mineral talc-based products in the US and Canada in 2020.
The company will cease sales in the UK and globally next year and swtich to a cornstarch-based formula – a decision it has described as “commercial”.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has faced a raft of lawsuits in recent years by mothers claiming their talcum powder causes cancer.
British ovarian cancer charity Ovacome has previously voiced concerns surrounding the use of talcum powder around the genital area.
It said the powder could increase the risk of ovarian cancer, although there is no consistent evidence.
Despite this, J&J insist their talc is safe, and there is no risk of asbestos or cancer.
Mr Lanier said: “For over forty years major manufacturers of talc products have covered up evidence of asbestos in their products.
“With pressure mounting, these companies are finally ceasing production, but this is long overdue.
“Companies have made many millions from sales of 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.”
Mark, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, and his COO Kevin Roberts, recently launched a UK law firm with English barristers Tom Longstaff and Duncan Hedar.
Tom 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.”
Duncan 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.”
Stephen Lanzo, 46, claims his cancer was caused by contaminated talcum powderCredit: LinkedIn