CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Scott Frost (left) and defense attorney Tom Radcliffe (right) delivering their opening statements
Bartow, FL - A Florida jury heard opening statements on Thursday at the second trial in the state over allegations that exposure to industrial talc products supposedly contaminated with asbestos caused a man’s fatal cancer, and the proceedings are being webcast live by Courtroom View Network.
Plaintiffs Robert Lord and his wife Lola sued Vanderbilt Minerals LLC in 2017 claiming that he developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to talc-containing industrial products while working for Florida Tile Company during the 1970’s. Talc is frequently used in ceramics products, and Lord accuses Vanderbilt of failing to provide adequate warnings about the asbestos allegedly present in their talc products despite knowing that it posed a health risk.
Vanderbilt maintains that Lord can’t definitively link his cancer to their products, and that there is no convincing scientific evidence that proves talc exposure causes mesothelioma. They also maintain that the type of asbestos found in Lord’s tissue samples is not found in their products.
The Lords' lawsuit is an “industrial talc” case, which is distinct from the “cosmetic talc” cases that generated headlines after a number of huge plaintiff verdicts in lawsuits alleging that exposure to products like baby powder caused mesothelioma for plaintiffs who inhaled it and ovarian cancer in plaintiffs who used it on their genitals. A cosmetic talc mesothelioma trial involving Johnson & Johnson is currently underway in New Jersey and is also being webcast live by CVN.
Industrial talc cases involve exposure to talc present in various compounds used in ceramics, chemical coatings, paper and plastics. A handful of industrial talc cases have gone to trial, but Lord’s case is believed to be the first to go before a Florida state court jury. Given the stakes of the case, both sides have brought in out-of-state attorneys specializing in asbestos litigation.
The Lords are represented by Scott Frost, a partner with Waters Kraus & Paul who practices out of the firm’s Dallas and Los Angeles offices.
Vanderbilt is represented by Tom Radcliffe, a partner from DeHay & Elliston LLP’s Baltimore office.
The lawsuit as filed (click here for a copy of the complaint) originally named a number of defendants including Honeywell International and Union Carbide Corporation, however only Vanderbilt remained when the case went to trial.
The trial is taking place before Polk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Raiden and is expected to take 2-3 weeks to complete. The full proceedings will be webcast live and recorded by CVN and are available to CVN subscribers, along with many other talc and asbestos trials from throughout the country that are part of CVN’s one-of-a-kind online video archive.
Note: A previous version of this article listed the Lord case as Florida's first talc mesothelioma suit to go to trial. However, Vanderbilt won a defense verdict in a 2010 talc mesothelioma Florida court case.
The case is captioned Robert Lord and Lola T. Lord v. Florida Southern College, et al., docket number 2017CA000783000000.
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