A talc producer must pay $4.8 million to a veteran afflicted with mesothelioma after a California jury found it responsible for his asbestos-related disease.

Willie McNeal Jr., 78, was awarded the sum April 16 following a jury trial in California Superior Court for Los Angeles County, according to a release from his attorneys.

The Vietnam veteran, who suffers from pleural mesothelioma, sued talc producer Whittaker, Clark & Daniels in 2018, contending that the talc the company produced was laced with asbestos that made its way into products that McNeal used daily.

Trial Evidence

More specifically, evidence was presented at trial that Whittaker, Clark & Daniels produced the talc that went into Old Spice Talcum Powder —which McNeal used daily for 22 years — and the company supposedly knew that its talc was contaminated with asbestos, the release alleges.

For decades, Whittaker, Clark & Daniels was one of the largest suppliers of cosmetic talc. Talc is frequently mined near asbestos deposits, which can lead to natural contamination. Testimony at trial indicated that talc extracted from Whittaker, Clark & Daniels’ North Carolina mine was known to be contaminated with asbestos, the release stated.

One of the mesothelioma patient’s attorneys — Stuart Purdy of the law firm Simon Greenstone Panatier — praised his client’s “steadfast and patient” manner in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He blazed a trail for many other litigants by showing justice can still be served in these uncertain times,” Purdy stated in the release.

Three Years Straight

McNeal’s personal injury mesothelioma lawsuit, which has been in near-constant litigation for more than three years, accused the firm and others of negligence and strict liability, according to court records. Those same court records show that the suit has named as many as 18 companies, ranging from tobacco companies (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.) and car parts retailers (Autozone) to pharmaceutical companies (Johnson & Johnson) and multiple talc producers.

The next hearing date in the asbestos lawsuit is slated for July 14, court records show.

A representative of chemical distributor Brenntag — which purchased Whittaker, Clark & Daniels in 1998 — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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