Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Colgate-Palmolive Settles Claims Over Asbestos in Its Talc

Updated on
  • Woman argued talc caused her to develop fatal lung disease
  • Colgate-Palmolive, J&J facing growing number of talc claims

Colgate-Palmolive Co. agreed to settle a lawsuit claiming its talcum-powder products caused a Pennsylvania woman to develop mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease tied to asbestos exposure.

New York-based Colgate-Palmolive moved to resolve Carol Schoeniger’s lawsuit to avoid a trial in a New Jersey state court, according to court filings. Financial terms of the deal weren’t made public.

The settlement comes as a growing number of talc users accuse manufacturers such as Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson of failing to warn consumers that their body powders pose a cancer threat. Some suits contend the talc-based products are contaminated with asbestos, a mineral often found in talc deposits.

J&J is facing more than 5,500 claims that its iconic Baby Powder caused ovarian cancer in women, according to court filings. Colgate-Palmolive said it faces more than 170 cases accusing it of selling asbestos-laced powder, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. So far this year the company said 43 cases have been resolved.

“Imerys’ firm position is that talc is safe, and that position is backed by the consensus of government agencies and professional scientific organizations that have reviewed the safety of talc,’’ Gwen Myers, a spokeswoman for Imerys Talc North America, said Friday in an emailed statement. Imerys mines talc sold to companies.

Tom Dipiazza, a Colgate-Palmolive spokesman, said he couldn’t immediately comment on the Oct. 30 settlement.

“Defendants manage their litigation in different ways,’’ Chris Panatier, one of Schoeniger’s lawyers, said Thursday in an emailed statement. “Colgate settles some and tries other’’ cases alleging injury from asbestos-laced talc, he added.

California Settlement

After a California jury ordered the consumer-products maker in 2015 to pay a woman $13 million over her mesothelioma claims tied to Cashmere Bouquet, the company agreed to a confidential settlement.

In her suit, Schoeniger alleged she used Cashmere Bouquet for more than 20 years before being diagnosed with mesothelioma. The company failed to warn her of the “risks, dangers and harm’’ to which she would be exposed through “inhalation or ingestion of the asbestos dust’’ in the body powders, according to the 2016 suit.

A California jury in Los Angeles currently is hearing evidence in a lawsuit in which a woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 30 years claims she developed mesothelioma from inhaling talc dust laced with asbestos.

The case is Schoeniger v. Brenntag North America Inc., No. L-5869-16-A3, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division-Middlesex County. The California case is Herford v. Johnson & Johnson, No. BC64631, Superior Court for the State of California (Los Angeles).

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