Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

$13 Million Asbestos Verdict against Colgate-Palmolive Over Talcum Powder

September 23, 2015

Los Angeles, CA The mesothelioma verdict was handed down quietly back in April, but it has huge implications for any consumer and would-be plaintiff who may have used talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive. And with 95 percent liability, the defendant winds up with the largest share of the $13 million asbestos jury verdict.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis lawsuits are usually centered on manufacturing, as asbestos was popularly used as insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos is still used, albeit sparingly in some industries. And asbestosis disease has also befallen individuals tasked with clearing asbestos out of old buildings during renovations. If workers are not properly protected, they can and do become the victims of asbestosis disease and mesothelioma - two related diseases associated with asbestos exposure.

A little-known cause of asbestosis and mesothelioma that has flown under the radar and dwarfed by the higher-profile sources is talcum powder. The oft-used product that was employed daily for comfort and hygiene by a previous generation was once manufactured with traces of asbestos, or so it has been alleged.

In her asbestos claim, plaintiff Judith Winkel noted that she was a regular user of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder, manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive. In January of last year, Winkel was diagnosed with asbestosis mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease that often takes decades to emerge following exposure and usually claims its victims within two years of diagnosis.

Winkel alleged in her lawsuit that Colgate-Palmolive knew or should have been aware of the dangers of asbestos since the 1930s. The jury in the asbestos lawsuit deliberated for just two hours before handing the defendant the vast majority of the liability in the case and awarding Winkel and her husband John $13 million with a unanimous finding for the plaintiffs on five counts: consumer expectations, risk-benefit, manufacturing defect, failure to warn and negligence. The jury also found that Colgate-Palmolive acted with malice.

The asbestos lawsuit was tried in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In an unrelated matter, the Attorney General for the state of Illinois announced in August an asbestos lawsuit against the owner of the former Pillsbury Mills manufacturing plant in Springfield, Illinois, and its on-site demolition contractor. The allegation is that the facility owner Pillsbury Mills, contractor Midwest Demolition & Scrap Inc. and co-owner Joseph Chernis violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act as well as related federal regulations by not properly containing asbestos during demolition.

Attorney General for the state of Illinois Lisa Madigan filed her office’s complaint in Sangamon County. “The defendants’ disregard of the proper procedures to dispose of harmful, cancer-causing materials is inexcusable,” said Madigan, in an official press release. “This lawsuit will ensure that current operations stop, and will require the defendants to take immediate steps to prevent workers and residents from being exposed to asbestos.”