Carcinogens and Their Involvement in Product Liability Lawsuits

May 5, 2022
Carcinogens and Their Involvement in Product Liability Lawsuits

Products Tainted With Carcinogens Pose a Threat to Consumers

Each year, companies shell out millions of dollars in product liability lawsuits. In many cases, companies were aware that their products could cause cancer because they contain dangerous amounts of carcinogens but deliberately concealed this information from consumers- sometimes for decades. Thankfully, a reckoning has come in the form of lawsuits accusing them of negligence; Florida law is clear, manufacturers have a legal responsibility to the public to inform them of the risks of their products, especially when the consequences can be deadly. Monetary compensation can help cover the costs of damages like medical bills and lost wages but for many, money alone is not enough to rectify the consequences defective products can cause. In addition to settlement damages, a product liability lawsuit can give victims peace of mind to know that companies creating cancer-causing products are being held liable for their actions.

What Are Carcinogens?

A carcinogen refers to any cancer-causing entity. Exposure can come from a variety of sources- everything from cigarettes to defective drugs to UV rays. Several government organizations and international agencies, like the International Agency for Research on Cancer, investigate and classify potential carcinogens.  According to the IARC's guidelines, the criteria for a Group 1 Carcinogen include a demonstrated causal relationship between the potential carcinogen and the development of cancer, as well as the dismissal of “chance, bias, and confounding [variables] were ruled out with reasonable confidence.” When a carcinogen is present, companies and employers have the responsibility to inform anyone who comes into contact with it and reduce exposure wherever possible. This may look like hospitals providing lead aprons for X-ray technicians to wear or the phasing out of asbestos as building insulation.  When they fail to uphold their end of the deal, they can be found at fault in a court of law. 

How Do Carcinogens Enter Defective Products? 

With the establishment of regulatory agencies and watchdog groups, you might think that their monitoring and penalties imposed for negligence would be a sufficient deterrent for dereliction of duty. However, it seems like every week there's a headline proclaiming that a product once presumed safe actually causes cancer. So how does a product become a carcinogen risk in the first place? In some cases, the product is incorrectly designed or manufactured in such a way that it becomes contaminated, meaning that the product itself or its components came into contact with a carcinogen. Alternatively, the ingredients composing the products are inherently toxic to humans or become hazardous when they degrade or interact with other chemicals. This is why substantial research is key to consumer safety; these risks should have been caught in a lab, long before the product entered the market.

Carcinogens in Defective Products Can Cause Harm Through Second-Hand Exposure

Unfortunately, the risk of carcinogens doesn't necessarily stop with the person who experienced the exposure. Think of it like second-hand smoke; in the same way, toxic chemicals from firefighting foam can leach into the soil and contaminate groundwater, and asbestos particles on a pair of coveralls can be carried home and sicken a family.  Second-hand exposure can be insidious, with victims not even realizing that they have absorbed or inhaled toxic chemicals or dust, even after they develop cancer or other serious health conditions. For example, when someone takes a job as a firefighter, they usually have some idea that they'll encounter hazardous materials, but a family living near an airport may not realize they are eligible to collect damages in a firefighting foam lawsuit if their contaminated tap water makes them sick. 

Notable Product Liability Lawsuits For Carcinogen- Compromised Products Linked to Workplace Exposure

Employers, like the U.S. military, airports, and fire departments used Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) which has long been known to contain carcinogens. Firefighting foam is chock full of forever chemicals known as PFOAs, which collect in the body and cause cancer, especially in female firefighters. There are about 27,174 fire departments in the U.S.; that's over a million firefighters who have potentially been exposed to AFFF. Unfortunately, that's not the only widespread workplace carcinogen. Asbestos is synonymous with cancer in the public consciousness, and with good reason; the fibers commonly found on construction job sites have been proven to cause mesothelioma Lawyers across the country sprung into action to file negligence lawsuits; Dolman Law Group has personally filed numerous mesothelioma lawsuits on behalf of sick clients who had oftentimes been exposed to asbestos for years without their knowledge. 

Current Product Liability Lawsuits Concerning Cancer Risk from Household Exposure

In addition to workplace exposure, common household items may prove carcinogenic when ingested or absorbed. Things that seem relatively harmless, like Zantac's heartburn medication or Roundup weedkiller, may turn out to be life-threatening. Even CPAP machines have been tied to cancer when the foam around the mask degrades, releasing toxins. As it turns out, the makers of Zantac are facing a mountain of lawsuits because their medication contained a toxic chemical known as NDMA; Roundup also faces accusations of failing to properly label their weedkiller as a potential carcinogen, due to the presence of glyphosate. A vocal and growing number of women have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of Johnson and Johnson's talcum-based baby powder; some studies have linked its long-term application to ovarian cancer, likely stemming from talc contaminated with asbestos.

Manufacturers of Carcinogen-Compromised Products Can Be Held Liable for Negligence

If it feels like there are lawsuits over cancer-causing products everywhere nowadays, it's not because companies are only now using toxic chemicals- it's because they are only now being caught. Most lawsuits against defective products rest on the premise that the manufacturers knew that their product was carcinogenic and failed to alert anyone, and if they didn't know, they should have. But when does it reach the level of a product liability lawsuit? Like any quality personal injury lawyer will tell you, you have to be able to demonstrate the links in the chain of causation. Companies have a duty to consumers to produce safe products and caution them about any side effects. In failing to do either of those things, they have breached their duty. If harm directly resulted from this failure, they can be held liable.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Recover Damages?

If you're suffering from the effects of cancer caused by a contaminated or defective product, you've got enough to worry about. Let the lawyers of Dolman Law Group handle the fight to get you the compensation you deserve.  We'll investigate the defective product and the negligent company to determine if you're eligible for special damages to cover your bills. Our lawyers will have your back in every room you walk into.  Big companies will have a line of experts out the door in an attempt to discredit your story, and their lawyers may try to intimidate you out of telling the truth. We won't let that happen. Dolman Law Group will bring in qualified doctors to verify your claims, present evidence of negligence, and communicate to the judge or jury the degree of suffering you have endured.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Product Liability Lawsuit

At Dolman Law Group, we have the experience and resources to give your case the personal attention it deserves. You're not “just another Roundup case” or “one of those sick firefighters”, you're a priority.  At a typical settlement mill, you'll likely be shuffled from one attorney to the next before they recommend you save everyone some paperwork and just accept the money offered to you by the company that caused you harm.  At Dolman Law Group, you'll have your lawyer's personal phone number. We'll be by your side through the entire claims process; from the free first consultation to the trial process, and until the ink dries on your settlement, we've got your back. Sometimes people who blow the whistle on harmful products are called fearmongers by the big companies that are afraid of losing profits; at Dolman Law Group, we consider them brave and are ready to help hold these companies accountable for their actions. Contact our offices at (727) 451-6900. You can also send us an email on our contact us page.  

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More