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July 2019

New York Court Grants Summary Judgment to Cosmetic Talc Manufacturer in Asbestos Case

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani's New York Toxic Tort Team Partners Erik DiMarco and Virginia Squitieri along with Senior Counsel Jennifer Foster, and Associates Timur Navruzov and Mohammad Haque successfully obtained summary judgment in favor of its cosmetic talc manufacturer client in New York. This is a significant victory in the wake of cosmetic talc cases recently flooding New York’s court system.  

The plaintiff filed suit against Gordon & Rees' client claiming she developed mesothelioma as a result of the use of cosmetic talc products, which the plaintiff contended were contaminated with asbestos. Gordon & Rees conducted extensive discovery relating to the plaintiff’s claims and developed expert opinions that its client’s cosmetic talc product did not cause or contribute to the plaintiff’s disease. Gordon & Rees' team pursued summary judgment, asking the New York court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims in their entirety on the basis that its client’s cosmetic talc product did not contain asbestos, that there was no epidemiological evidence that cosmetic talc could cause mesothelioma, and that an industrial hygiene assessment showed that there was no causal link between the plaintiff’s use of the product and her mesothelioma. The plaintiff opposed, arguing that there was sufficient evidence of contamination of the product at issue and further claiming that a sufficient question of fact existed as to causation.   

At oral argument, lead attorney Erik DiMarco pointed to the plethora of evidence it had marshalled in support of its motion, including affidavits from medical doctors, a geologist and an industrial hygienist analysis of the plaintiff’s use of the cosmetic talc product in question. Immediately following oral argument, Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte issued a decision from the bench finding that Gordon & Rees' client had produced sufficient evidence to meet its prima facie burden showing that there is no causal connection between the plaintiff’s use of cosmetic talcum powder product and her mesothelioma.  The Court further found that the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to causation sufficient to preclude the award summary judgment.

As the first summary judgment victory in New York in favor of a cosmetic talcum powder manufacturer, this case will serve as a precedent for future cosmetic talc cases for establishing the defendant’s prima facie case on summary judgment on the issue of causation.  

Further information on this decision can be obtained from Gordon & Rees' New York Toxic Tort Partners Erik DiMarco and Virginia Squitieri.

Erik DiMarco
Mohammad M. Haque
Virginia Squitieri