Talc mining company Imerys Talc America Inc., was released from a Florida product liability lawsuit involving claims that the talc mining company, Johnson & Johnson Companies Inc. and Publix Super Markets Inc. contributed to a woman’s ovarian cancer diagnosis. The court ruled that Florida courts have no jurisdiction over Imerys because the company has no contacts in the state.
“Here, Imerys produced a component in one state (not Florida) and sold it to a different company in a different state,” Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals said.
The lawsuit was filed by Judith Rickets against Imerys, Johnson & Johnson, and Publix. She claims she bought the Johnson’s Baby Powder at the Publix in Broward County, Florida, and used it for most of her life. In 2013, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She alleges that Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys were involved in a trade group – Talc Interested Party Task Force – designed to defend the use of talc despite scientific studies that found asbestos in the talc.
Asbestos is a mineral mined from the earth in much the same way – and often in the same areas – as talc. But asbestos contains microscopic fibers that can be inhaled or ingested. Over decades, the fibers can inflame the delicate tissue that surrounds the lungs, abdomen and chest, leading to mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In July, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women after finding that Johnson & Johnson was aware that its talc contained asbestos but failed to inform consumers of this risk. The women claimed that the company’s asbestos-contaminated talc contributed to their ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Imerys was also named as a defendant in that case, but settled with the women before the trial began.