In a bombshell report early this October, the New York Times released an article exposing over three decades of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mega-producer, Harvey Weinstein. As a result, I am taking a brief detour from our usual “product safety” blog posts, and in light of the many sexual conduct cases I have handled over the years (both civilly and criminally as a former prosecutor myself), and in response to a number of people who have asked me, what kind of civil and criminal remedies, if any, may be available to the Weinstein victims, I have attempted to provide my best “quick” analysis of same here.

Weinstein’s acts include sexual battery, sexual harassment, and even rape. Allegations from dozens of different women subordinates in his company accused Weinstein of lude behavior at their offices and in various hotels across the United States and Europe. Many of the allegations followed the same pattern: Weinstein, using his status as their boss, would leverage career opportunities for sexual favors. If and when the women refused, he would persist and in some cases become violent. The companies would pay off the women to keep quiet after the encounter. Women who accepted these further agreed to abide by a confidentially clause written into their employment contracts. These stated that they could not harm the “business reputation” of the company or its employees.

Civilly, it is unlikely that Weinstein can be charged. This is because the states he has been accused of misconduct in, California and New York, have a very narrow statute of limitations for one to bring such an accusation to trial, one to two years. Most of the assaults happened in the 1990s, so there will not be a remedy for those victims in a civil court of law.

This is not to say, however, that Weinstein cannot face justice. Actress Lucia Evans claims Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in his New York City office in 2004. This would be classified as felony sexual assault under state law. There is no statute of limitations for this crime in New York, meaning that Weinstein could potentially go to court over the accusation.

Prosecutors face two major obstacles in getting this case on the docket. First, due to the fact that the crime happened 13 years ago, there is little to no forensic evidence. Attorneys for Evans would have to rely on Weinstein’s pattern of abuse and confession, in which he appears to admit to abusing multiple women. Secondly, the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, must agree to prosecute the case. He has already refused to move forward with sexual battery charges against Weinstein, making the future of Evans’s case look increasingly bleak. Former New York City prosecutor told The Guardian: “I don’t think he’s going to bend to political pressure. As much as what [Weinstein] did is deplorable, I don’t think they are going to charge a crime that is unlikely to result in a conviction.”

The Weinstein Company could also be charged with facilitating an environment where sexual misconduct was allowed to happen. Weinstein’s behavior was well-known within the company according to the NYT. The Board for Directors fired Weinstein after the assertions were made public as a way to express that they do not condone his behavior. It will be up a jury if that action is enough when weighing if the company owes the victims damages.

Weinstein has been fired from his own company and is regarded as a social pariah in Hollywood. These informal sanctions do not come anywhere near providing justice for the women deserve whom he hurt.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) suffered yet another major blow to its brand on Monday August 21st, when a Los Angeles County judge ordered them to pay $417 million in damages to a plaintiff who alleged she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a result of using their talcum power products. While this is certainly not the first case regarding J&J’s powder to be decided upon, it is the the largest verdict to date. Three verdicts have been made to victims in Missouri for a total of $237 million this year, too.

Johnson and Johnson, after having broken records in 2016 for record verdicts against a major company in one year, apparently is looking to even break last year’s record year with the year it continues to have in 2017.  See more here.

Talc is a clay-based mineral derived from both magnesium and silicon. Many times, these elements are mined in close proximity to asbestos, and there is a possibility of contamination. For this reason, steps are prevented to promote quality control.

Eva Echeverria, age 63, started using J&J’s talcum product when she was eleven years old. She did this, like many Americans, to sooth irritation and prevent chafing on her inner thigh and groin. Echeverria was under the impression that the powder was safe.  Her case is just one of the over 4,500 nationwide and the over 300 in California pending.

Many studies suggest that there is a link between talcum-based powder use and eventual ovarian cancer diagnosis. The first of these reports dates back to 1971, where Welsh scientists found traces of talc in both ovarian and cervical tumors in patients that had used the products for an extended period of time. Another study, which was cited by plaintiff’s attorneys, stated that there was a 92% increase in ovarian cancer in patients that used talcum powder.

A third study done by Harvard Medical School in conjunction with the National Nurse Health Study gave ambiguous results, which can be capitalized on by attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants. While the conclusion of the study stated that there was not a connection between talc and ovarian cancer, it does state that there is a “modest elevation in risk” for one variety of the disease, the type Echeverria was diagnosed with. Many other unmentioned analyses take a similar tone: While they cannot definitively say that talc leads to cancer, researchers are not so quick to dismiss any cause-effect relationship between the two.

Talc, if it is placed around the genitals, is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible carcinogen.

Ovarian cancer accounts for 1.3% of all diagnosed cancers in the United States, and less than 50% of all women diagnosed survive five years after a tumor is found.

While this was a victory for patients in the short term, J&J stated that they are planning to appeal the decision. Attorneys for J&J are confident that they will be successful because “[they] are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

While that claim is certainly up for debate, here’s hoping that everyone that has been afflicted by ovarian cancer by way of J&J’s talculm powder products gets the justice they deserve.

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The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently declared the weed killer Roundup a “probable human carcinogen” amidst numerous studies linking it to non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. A number of journal reviews have specifically linked Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including studies performed by the International Journal of Cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers.

Roundup, a popular weed killer, is used both residentially and commercially to prevent the growth of weeds. The active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, inhibits an enzyme that is critical to the growth and development of plant life. The chemical, produced by Monsanto, took off in popularity in the 90’s and is currently used on over half the farmlands in the United States.

It is likely that glyphosate is in the food supply as it is used on over half of the farmlands. The USDA, however, does not test foods for glyphosate. They did test food in 2011 and found ranges between .26 and 18.5 ppm, below the 20 ppm limit set by the EPA. A study published by the journal Entropy in 2013 found that residue from Roundup could enhance the damage caused by other toxins.

The strongest link seems to exist between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), with one study indicating that individuals exposed to glyphosate are twice as likely to contract NHL. NHL is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Signs of NHL include swollen lymph nodes, abdominal pain, chest pain or coughing, fever, fatigue, and weight loss. A physician can diagnose NHL through imaging tests, blood tests, and a biopsy of the lymph nodes.

For their part, Monsanto adamantly denies that glyphosate may increase the risk of cancer, noting a lack of new research, evidence, or scientific data. Bottles of Roundup do not warn of any carcinogens or of the fact the chemical glyphosate has been linked to NHL. Several individuals, including a farmer and a horticulturist who developed cancer after extensive exposure to glyphosate have filed suit against Monsanto.