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$13 Million Jury Verdict Awarded in Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit

talcumA jury in Los Angeles has awarded a 73-year-old woman a $13 million verdict in a lawsuit in which lawyers for the plaintiff claimed that she contracted a deadly form of cancer by using asbestos-containing talcum powder. The jury arrived at the verdict on April 28 after two hours of deliberation.

The talc cancer lawsuit award includes $1.4 million for the woman’s husband.

Judith Winkel, with her husband John, filed suit against Colgate Palmolive over their product Cashmere Bouquet, which Ms. Winkel said she used regularly throughout much of the 1960s and 70s. Judith Winkel suffers from mesothelioma, a lung cancer usually contracted through exposure to asbestos. Companies market talcum powder as free from asbestos, though there has been concern for some time that some mineral deposits of talc used in cosmetics were still contaminated with the cancer-causing agent.

Over 700 talc cancer lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson

Generally, mesothelioma lawsuits are filed concerning workers exposed to asbestos in construction environments. While several talcum powder asbestos lawsuits are pending against Colgate Palmolive concerning Cashmere Bouquet, the company says that “over ten other actions” of this kind have been dismissed.

There has, however, been one other jury verdict in favor of a plaintiff who alleged a connection between mesothelioma and talcum powder containing asbestos. In November of 2013, a jury in New Jersey awarded $1.6 million to a man who claimed that exposure to fibers brought home from a factory where talc products were produced were responsible for his cancer. The talc supplier in this case was Whittaker, Clark & Daniels.

Approximately 700 cases alleging that talc-based baby powder causes ovarian cancer are pending against Johnson & Johnson over their Shower-to-Shower products.

Verdict finds Colgate 95% responsible

The verdict in favor of Winkel held Colgate Palmolive 95% responsible for the plaintiff’s cancer and the damages awarded were designed to compensate her for medical bills, other related expenses, pain and suffering, and reduced life expectancy. Mesothelioma can be treated but cannot, ultimately, be cured.

The remaining 5% of the damages were levied against four other firms that produced products through which Winkel may have been exposed to asbestos at work or home.

Representatives from Colgate Palmolive said that they were disappointed with the verdict and dispute that the source of Ms. Winkel’s cancer was their talcum powder product.  A lawyer for Colgate stated that “Cashmere Bouquet did not harm Mrs. Winkel” and that there was a “clear absence of proof connecting any disease to our product.”

She also noted that studies of mines where the talc used for Cashmere Bouquet was extracted did not find any cases of mesothelioma among the workers employed there.

There will, however, be no appeal, as plaintiff and defendant reached a confidential settlement prior to the review of evidence to fix additional punitive damages.

  1. Fair Warning, Colgate-Palmolive Suffers Courtroom Loss in Asbestos-Talc Powder Case

  2. US News, Jury Awards Woman $13 Million for Asbestos Exposure