A California jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive to pay millions in compensatory damages to a woman who blames the companies’ talc-based powders for her mesothelioma.
According to her talcum powder lawsuit, Patricia Schmitz used either Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet for most of her life after showering. She claimed that the defendants’ raw talc was tainted with asbestos and the only possible cause of her mesothelioma.
The Alameda County Superior Court jury convened to hear her case agreed, and ordered Johnson & Johnson and Colgate to pay Schmitz $4.8 million each. Avon Products Inc. was assessed $2.4 million in damages, bringing the total talcum powder mesothelioma verdict to $12 million.
The jury declined to award punitive damages. And because Schmitz never actually named Avon as a defendant, she likely won’t be able to collect that portion of the award.
According to Blomberg News, Schmitz, now 61, told the jury that her mother used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder on her when she was an infant. Schmitz started using Cashmere Bouquet after showering around the age of 13 and continued doing so until the early 2000’s. She also used Avon’s Night Magic at some point.
Doctors discovered mesothelioma near her heart last year, and the asbestos-linked cancer has already reached an advanced stage. According to her attorneys, Schmitz is not expected to live past the summer.
During closing arguments, one of Schmitz’s lawyers noted that asbestos had been detected in more than 70 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder they tested and in all 20 bottles of Cashmere Bouquet they examined. Although Colgate stopped selling talc-based powders in the 1990s, Johnson & Johnson’s has continued to market its products. In fact, the company even ignored a previous jury’s recommendation that it include a warning label on Baby Powder.
Johnson & Johnson is currently defending more than 14,000 lawsuits nationwide that allege its popular talcum powder products caused either mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.
Yesterday’s talcum powder mesothelioma verdict was the company’s 11th loss since the claims began going to trial in February 2016, and comes just two weeks after a New York City jury ordered the company to pay $335 million to the plaintiff in another asbestos case.
Johnson & Johnson has also agreed to settle four mesothelioma lawsuits since December.