Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Woman Wins $12 Million Asbestos Talcum Powder Lawsuit

May 9, 2015

Santa Barbara, CA In a move that could open asbestos litigation to consumers, a California woman was recently awarded more than $12 million in her asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit. The plaintiff, Judith Winkel, claimed her development of mesothelioma was caused by asbestos in Colgate-Palmolive’s talcum powder.

According to the lawsuit, Judith Winkel alleged she developed mesothelioma, a fatal lung condition, following her use of Cashmere Bouquet, a talcum powder made by Colgate-Palmolive that allegedly contained asbestos. During the trial, attorneys for the plaintiff showed evidence that Colgate-Palmolive knew or should have known about the risks associated with asbestos.

Talc is not meant to contain asbestos, but some talc reportedly comes from mine deposits that are contaminated with the carcinogen. Lawyers have claimed that some cosmetics companies lied about the existence of asbestos in their powders, putting the public at risk of serious health problems.

Colgate has denied Cashmere Bouquet was ever tainted with asbestos, according to TNS Regional News (5/1/15), and therefore did not play a role in Winkel’s illness. Attorneys for Colgate argued that the minerals at the mines were not asbestos and so the product could not have been tainted.

The jury hearing the case found in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded her around $12 million, which led to the two sides reaching a confidential settlement. Colgate said it reached a settlement to avoid a drawn-out appeals process.

There are reportedly other pending lawsuits concerning the asbestos-containing talcum powder.

Meanwhile, a jury has awarded $3.5 million in a lawsuit alleging a woman died from so-called “take home” asbestos exposure - exposure in which asbestos fibers are attached to workers’ clothing and inhaled by their family members. The lawsuit was filed by Barbara Brandes, who died on April 19 of mesothelioma, just days before her lawsuit ended. Brandes’ husband, Raymond, died in January and had asbestosis.

Raymond worked at a refinery and was exposed to asbestos at work, The Seattle Times (4/27/15) notes. The lawsuit alleged Barbara was exposed to the asbestos through fibers on Raymond’s clothing that came loose when she shook out the clothes for the laundry.

The lawsuit was filed against Brand Insulations and six other defendants, including ARCO and Union Carbide. All other defendants settled with the plaintiffs prior to trial. Brand Insulations has said it is reviewing its options.