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8 March 2022 | Comment | Article by Angharad Jones

The different experiences of men and women with Mesothelioma

On International Women’s Day we discuss a recent Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study (GEMS).

This year’s International Women’s Day theme reads as follows:

  • Imagine a gender equal world
  • A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination
  • A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive
  • A world where difference is valued and celebrated
  • Together we can forge women’s equality
  • Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias

A recent Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study (GEMS) highlighted the different experiences of men and women regarding the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. One key finding was that familial and social expectations of men and women influenced their willingness to pursue civil compensation.

Mesothelioma has historically been considered a disease which men who worked in heavy industry suffered from. However, as the years have passed by more women with less traditional sources of asbestos exposure have sadly been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Their ability to pursue compensation claims has typically been more challenging. One reason for this is that the source of the asbestos exposure suffered is not always easily identifiable.

However in recent years, a growing number of compensation claims have been pursued in respect of asbestos contaminated talcum powder. It is well known that talc and asbestos in their mineral form are very similar having been mined alongside each other for many years. It is however much less known that the proximity of mining these minerals alongside each other has led to contamination of talc across the world.

This has led to a number of claims being pursued against talc manufacturers by those suffering with mesothelioma. These cases are typically litigated in the United States by both US and UK nationals.

A Reuters report in 2018 suggested that the prominent talc manufacturer Johnson and Johnson’s product was contaminated with asbestos as far back as 1957 and continued testing positive to contain asbestos until at least 2003. This has been brought the worlds’ attention over recent years with an estimated 34,000 legal compensation claims currently on-going at present.

Johnson & Johnson withdrew its talc-based baby powder from sale in the US and Canada in 2020. Sales of baby powder had dropped after US regulators detected carcinogenic chrysotile fibres, a type of asbestos, in a sample.

Johnson & Johnson has spent billions on costs and settlements, including a $2 billion (£1.5 billion) judgment by a Missouri appeals court in favour of 22 claimants.

The specialist asbestos litigation team at Hugh James have been instructed by a number of UK citizens who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. A number of these clients have pursued successful claims against US manufacturers of talc products.

In recent months settlements have been achieved for UK based clients ranging in value from $600,000 (£450,000) to $1.4 million (£1 million). Typically, these cases have been pursued by women suffering with mesothelioma who have no other identifiable source of asbestos exposure.

It is anticipated that the number of claimant’s suffering with mesothelioma who were exposed to talc contaminated with asbestos will increase in the coming years. Sadly, mesothelioma is a condition which doesn’t discriminate, and it is anticipated that many of those diagnosed following exposure to contaminated talc will be women. The small consolation is that hopefully some of these women will have greater access to justice now and in the future than they have had in years gone by.

Author bio

Angharad Jones

Senior Associate

Angharad is a Senior Associate in the Industrial Disease department and has over three years of experience in dealing with asbestos related disease claims. She acts for patients suffering from asbestos related diseases including asbestosis, pleural thickening and mesothelioma, and also specialises in claims for silicosis.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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