J&J, Colgate talc powder lawsuit: Firms ordered to pay nearly $10M

Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive were ordered to pay a total of nearly $10 million to a California woman who alleged that the consumer product companies’ talc-based body powders contributed to her diagnosis of terminal mesothelioma.

The verdict in California state court determined that each company must pay roughly $4.8 million in damages to the woman, Patricia Schmitz, Bloomberg reported. A third company, Avon Products, was found liable for $2.4 million in damages, though that firm was not named as a defendant.

Schmitz testified that she had used J&J or Colgate brand body powders for most of her life. J&J has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc-based baby powder caused cancer. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

“We will pursue an appeal because Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer, as supported by decades of independent clinical evidence,” J&J said in a statement. “There were serious procedural and evidentiary errors in the proceeding that required us to move for mistrial on multiple occasions and we believe provide strong grounds for appeal.”

Colgate also plans to appeal the verdict.

“Colgate is disappointed with the jury verdict, which we believe is inconsistent with the facts and evidence presented at trial,” the company said in a statement. “This trial suffered from numerous significant legal and evidentiary errors that we believe unfairly prejudiced the defense.”Representatives for J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The verdict was J&J’s second loss at trial this month in a case related to its talc-based powder. A New York State jury ordered the firm to pay $300 million in punitive damages and $25 million in other restitution to a couple after a woman, Donna Olson, said she developed mesothelioma.


J&J has lost 11 trials related to its talc-based powders since 2016, according to Bloomberg.