On April 28, 2015 a Los Angeles County Jury returned a $13 million verdict in favor of a 73-year-old woman who contracted a deadly disease from using asbestos-containing talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Judith, a retired office clerk, mother and grandmother, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2014. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
According to the lawsuit, Judy began using Cashmere Bouquet in 1961, when her coworkers gave her a can of the powder as a gift. From 1961 to 1976, Judy used Cashmere Bouquet virtually every day.
Evidence in the case revealed that Colgate-Palmolive made Cashmere Bouquet from the 1930s to 1995. Prior to 1985, the company sourced talc from three different mines that were documented as being contaminated with asbestos as early as the 1940s. Colgate-Palmolive’s own later testing of the talc found it to contain asbestos, but never passed this information on to either the FDA or consumers.
While billions of dollars have been paid in verdicts and settlements to people sickened by exposure to asbestos, it’s often in cases related to use of the mineral in construction materials or insulation. Tiny fibers of the carcinogen can be breathed in and lodge in the lungs, leading to fatal illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The Food and Drug Administration conducted a study more than five years ago that found no asbestos in cosmetics it tested containing talcum powder. However, the agency said there’s been concern about asbestos contamination in talc since the 1970s. Some studies have shown a possible association between use of talc powders and ovarian cancer but have not conclusively linked the two, the agency said.
Jurors found the company negligent for the design, manufacture or sale of the product and found that it presented a substantial danger that they failed to warn consumers about.
According to reports, this is the first verdict against Colgate-Palmolive for talcum powder that contained asbestos. Colgate, which sold Cashmere Bouquet in 1995, said it was disappointed with the verdict.
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