New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers Win $1.6M Asbestos Verdict on Appeal

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New Jersey personal injury lawyers from NYC and NJ based personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Levy Konigsberg LLP win a $1.6-million verdict on appeal on behalf of a New Jersey man who developed peritoneal mesothelioma as a result of using asbestos-containing cosmetic talc.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey, March 30, 2015 – On March 27, 2015, a three-judge panel in Kaenzig v. Charles B. Chrystal Co. affirmed a jury verdict and award of $1.6 million against asbestos-containing cosmetic talc supplier Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc. Kaenzig is a landmark verdict; the first of its kind upheld on appeal.

New Jersey personal injury lawyers Moshe Maimon and Leah Kagan from the law firm of Levy Konigsberg LLP(“LK”) won the verdict on November 1, 2013, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, on behalf of Steven Kaenzig and his wife Linda. At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the jury determined that Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc. – the primary supplier of talc for use in consumer cosmetic products, including Old Spice and Desert Flower, manufactured by The Shulton Company in New Jersey – failed to warn Steven Kaenzig of the health hazards of asbestos in its talc and that this failure to warn caused his mesothelioma.

Steven Kaenzig, 47, who was diagnosed in 2011 with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure – was exposed to asbestos carried home on the work clothes of his father, Wilfred “Wiz” Kaenzig, who worked at the Old Spice plant in Mays Landing, during the first eight years of his life, from 1967 to 1975. The Appellate Division noted that Wiz Kaenzig’s employment (and therefore Steven Kaenzig’s exposure to asbestos-containing talc) ended in 1975 when the Shulton Mays Landing talc operation relocated to Tennessee due to “complaints from purchasers of some of Shulton’s ‘high-priced’ products that its product containers were coated with talc dust.”

Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc., challenged the verdict on multiple grounds, including evidentiary and motion rulings made by the presiding judge, Vincent LeBlon. In a 38 page opinion, the Appellate Division upheld the $1.6 million verdict noting that Whittaker failed to preserve objections on issues raised on appeal, failed to demonstrate plain error on evidentiary and admissibility rulings by LeBlon, and to the extent the judges did not specifically address Whittaker’s other points they “conclude that they lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion.” The Kaenzig’s reply to Whittaker’s appeal was briefed by LK co-counsel Robert Lytle of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Blader, P.C. and argued by Jeffrey Blumstein of Szaferman Lakind.

Consistent with legal precedent, the Appellate Division made no distinction between asbestos in talc and asbestos in other types of products in applying New Jersey law on a multitude of legal issues including the duty to warn. The opinion confirmed that, “[t]he asbestos claims asserted in this case fall within the ‘environment tort’ exception to the Product Liability Act.” Trial attorney for the Kaenzigs, Moshe Maimon, stressed that “the harm caused by asbestos-contaminated talc and consumer talcum powder products has long been overshadowed by the industrial disease aspect of asbestos.”

Along with the Kaenzigs, in New Jersey, Moshe Maimon and Leah Kagan represent four other individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos from cosmetic talc, including a former Shulton Company employee, a former hairdresser who used Clubman talcum powder on her clients, and two women who used Desert Flower and Cashmere Bouquet – a talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Company utilizing the same source of contaminated talc Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc., distributed to Shulton in Kaenzig.

For more details about the trial, verdict, and appeal, contact Levy Konigsberg LLP New Jersey personal injury lawyers specializing in mesothelioma and consumer products liability Moshe Maimon and Leah Kagan at 1-800-988-8005.

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