By Andrew S. Wainwright, Esq.

Posted on Sep 8, 2014



Many people are not aware that for many years, the talc they were exposed to may have contained asbestos.  Asbestos-containing talc was incorporated in many commercial and home construction products, including joint compound and wallboard, and paints.  It was also common in the rubber industry, and in foundries as a release agent.

One longtime talc defendant and their former law firm is now facing trouble for allegedly lying in numerous lawsuits involving asbestos-containing talc exposures.  A lawsuit claiming BASF and its lawyers filed false documents and fraudulently concealed evidence that its talc products contained asbestos has been reinstated by the Third Circuit. The lawsuit alleges “a strategy of denial and deceit” by Engelhard and its attorneys to fool people into dropping their lawsuits or settling cheaply. A lower court judge had thrown out the class action, brought by thousands of asbestos victims, ruling that BASF and its attorneys conduct was protected because it took place as part of judicial proceedings. The Third Circuit ruled that dismissing the case would “immunize systematic fraud,… fraud calculated to thwart the judicial process.”The case is quite the cloak and dagger affair. BASF, the world’s largest chemical maker, acquired Engelhard, a Fortune 500 chemical and mining company, in 2006.But the lawsuit itself goes back to a claim filed in 1979 against Engelhard by Thomas Westfall, an Englehard employee who had been exposed to talc. The case was settled in 1984, and Engelhard and its attorneys, New York law firm Cahill, Gordon and Reindil, LLP, rounded up the evidence and documents that had been produced in that lawsuit. This included the testimony of three Engelhard employees that its talc contained asbestos – that testimony was sealed by the settlement’s confidentiality order and never made public.Even worse, according to the lawsuit, the law firm Cahill, Gordon then went forward and created false evidence, affidavits and expert reports, claiming (falsely) that Engelhard talc did not contain asbestos. Cahill, Gordon used this false evidence in stock pleadings in which they claimed all plaintiffs’ lawsuits invalid because Engelhard products didn’t contain asbestos.The entire scheme unraveled in 2009 in the course of a mesothelioma lawsuit filed by Donna Paduano, the daughter of a former Engelhard research chemist. Paduano’s father testified that he had found asbestos in Engelhard’s talc, but in the 1980s had been instructed to turn over all his records to the company. BASF’s new lawyers then found and turned over a stockpile of documents that were found in a Cahill, Gordon storage facility.

BASF has not yet said whether it will appeal the ruling, but has stated that it will continue to fight the class action claim.

Thornton Law Firm has been fighting the asbestos industry and its attorneys since 1978. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you can count on New England’s leading mesothelioma law firm to get you all the compensation you are entitled to by law. Call our toll free number 888-632-0108 or tell us your story here. All legal claims have short time limits so do not delay protecting your legal rights.