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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mesothelioma Award for Household Contact of Talc Worker Upheld for $1.6

A $1.6 Million  award for a household contact of an asbestos worker was affirmed by a NJ Court of Appeals. The child of a Shulton employee was exposed to talc (Old Spice Talcum Powder) containing asbestos when the father brought home asbestos dust.

"In July 2012, plaintiffs Steven G. Kaenzig and Linda Kaenzig filed an asbestos litigation complaint asserting claims of negligence and products liability against several defendants, including Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc. (defendant).1 Defendant was the primary supplier of raw talc to Shulton, Inc., the company that owned the Mays Landing facility (the facility) where the asbestos-contaminated Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powder was produced. Plaintiffs alleged that Steven contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to the talc, through contact with his father, who worked at the facility from 1967 to 1975.

"Defendant filed several pretrial motions, including a motion to compel plaintiffs to produce testing data and reports prepared by an expert, whom plaintiffs had consulted but did not intend to call at trial, on three "vintage" samples of Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powder products. The judge denied the motion, but ordered plaintiffs to provide defendant with the samples. The judge also denied defendant's motions to exclude testimony by plaintiffs' experts Sean Fitzgerald, a geologist, and Jacqueline Moline, M.D., but barred Fitzgerald's testimony as to his testing of the "vintage" samples he had received from the non-testifying consulting expert.

"Following a trial in October and November 2013, a jury awarded plaintiffs $1.6 million in compensatory damages. On appeal, defendant challenges several pretrial and trial evidentiary rulings, and the denial of its motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and a new trial. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.