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Talc producer settles mesothelioma suit during jury deliberations

Just as a Florida jury sat down for its first day of deliberations, the parties in a mesothelioma lawsuit agreed to a confidential settlement. The plaintiff, a former tile worker, had been seeking $11.5 million in damages from Vanderbilt Minerals, LLC, which produces talc used in ceramic products. According to the plaintiff's attorney, Vanderbilt Minerals' talc products are largely the product of a single mine which has been shown to contain asbestos.

As is common in mesothelioma cases, the defense argued that there were a number of plausible sources of asbestos to which the plaintiff might have been exposed. For example, the plaintiff could have been exposed when performing brake jobs, which he occasionally did as a hobby. Furthermore, the defense argued that the plaintiff's employer, Florida Tile Company, may not have provided adequate safety training for working with talc.

The plaintiff's lawyer argued that those sources were minimal but suggested the jury allocate some financial responsibility if they were convinced the sources might have contributed to the plaintiff's mesothelioma. However, the case was settled before the jury could make any such allocation of responsibility.

The defense also argued that the plaintiffs should have put a geologist or mineralogist on the stand. Furthermore, they claimed that workers in Vanderbilt Minerals' mine have been exposed to a great deal more of the talc than the plaintiff but so far have not developed mesothelioma.

This case involves industrial talc, which is somewhat different from recent cases involving cosmetic talc products such as Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder. Industrial talc is commonly found in compounds used in ceramics, paper, plastics, and certain chemical coatings.

"For many years companies have denied their products contained asbestos, when in fact they did, exposing the hard-working people like [the plaintiff] to asbestos with no warning," said the plaintiff's attorney.

Mesothelioma cases are complicated and can involve claims against multiple potential sources of asbestos. It is important for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma or their family members to work with a legal team that is experienced in cases involving multiple defendants and complex theories of responsibility

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