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Imerys Talc America and Cyprus Mines Corporation are Creating a Trust for Asbestos Victims

Published: March 8, 2024

Imerys Talc America and its former owner, Cyprus Mines Corporation, will create a collective $862 million trust. The reason for the trust is to settle personal injury claims that allege the company’s asbestos contaminated talc caused people’s cancer. This is after both groups filed reorganization plans and disclosure statements on January 31, 2024 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Both companies filed for bankruptcy so they could continue to do business while in a reorganization plan. Imerys filed for bankruptcy after facing more than 14,600 lawsuits. These lawsuits claim that the company’s talc was contaminated with asbestos. This led to mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other serious cancers and health complications. Cyprus mines filed for bankruptcy in February 2021 and is being treated as related to the Imerys bankruptcy case. There is a hearing scheduled for March 14, 2024 where approval of its disclosure statements will be considered.

Imerys is a leading supplier of talc. It is responsible for around 15 percent of the world’s supply. It once supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson, which is also being sued for asbestos contaminated talc products. Johnson’s baby Powder and Shower to Shower products used talc from Imerys. It is currently facing 51,000 cancer lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson has already lost multiple multimillion-dollar lawsuits. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that the talc used for its products was contaminated with asbestos, later causing mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. In April 2023, Johnson & Johnson proposed its own $8.9 billion trust fund to settle talc lawsuits. It has already filed for bankruptcy protection twice and failed both times since it was denied by the courts. Documents show that Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos contaminating its talc products since the 1950s. It stopped selling talc-based products in 2023 and now sells cornstarch-based baby powder.

Asbestos and talc can be found close together in the ground. When talc is mined, asbestos can come with it, contaminating the batch of talc. Asbestos contaminated talc is considered carcinogenic to humans according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. The agency says that asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses like asbestosis. When people are exposed to asbestos, there is a long latency period to develop mesothelioma. It can take anywhere from 20 to 60 years, so people exposed may not show symptoms for decades. Talc deposits usually contain tremolite or anthophyllite asbestos, which are some of the most dangerous types. Pure talc can also cause problems including lung problems, coughs, chest pain, shortness of breath, and death.

“Talc Debtors Imerys, Cyprus Mines Propose Joint Trust To Resolve Asbestos Claims” Mealey’s (February 2, 2024). [Link]
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