LOS ANGELES, California ― A Los Angeles jury has returned a record verdict (according to topverdict.com) against asbestos-containing talc supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels for its role in causing California political figure Philip Depoian’s mesothelioma cancer. The jury verdict is the largest award on record for a mesothelioma claim linked to cosmetic talc exposure, according to trial lawyers at Dallas-based Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC.
The jury reached its verdict on Oct. 19 following six weeks of trial. A second phase for punitive damages was set to resume before the sole remaining defendant – talc supplier Whittaker, Clark & Daniels – reached a confidential settlement on Oct. 26. In agreeing to the settlement, Whittaker, Clark & Daniels avoided the prospect of additional penalties based on the jury’s finding that it had acted with malice in marketing its talc as asbestos-free without adequately testing the substance.
“Whittaker was the largest talc supplier in the country and was certifying that its product contained no asbestos, but its testing was inadequate and its certification false and misleading,” said shareholder and trial attorney Jay Stuemke of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett.
Mr. Depoian, a longtime aide to Mayor Tom Bradley and a prominent political figure in his own right for more than three decades, was diagnosed in May 2015 with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett attorneys successfully argued that Mr. Depoian was exposed to asbestos in talc products at a barber shop where his father worked and through his use of products including Old Spice, Clubman, Kings Men and Mennen Shave Talc. Asbestos and talc are natural silicate minerals often mined in the same deposits, but asbestos can cause cancer and should not contaminate talc products.
The jury’s fault apportionment found Whittaker, Clark & Daniels 30 percent at fault.
Philip and Julie Depoian were represented at trial by SGPB shareholders Jay Stuemke and Stuart Purdy.
The case is Philip John Depoian and Julie Pastor Depoian vs. American International Industries, et al., filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC607192.