In the company’s second talc lawsuit in Philadelphia, Colgate-Palmolive on Friday agreed to settle a claim that its asbestos-containing products caused cancer. The plaintiff in question developed mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused exclusively by asbestos.
This came 2 weeks after Colgate-Palmolive attempted to have a similar case thrown out of a Philadelphia court, arguing that the tests used to detect asbestos in its products were grounded in “junk science.” However, this latest case could set the tone for Colgate-Palmolive’s 170 remaining talc suits. And although talc-product manufacturers hope to discredit high-profile Missouri litigation following a recent Supreme Court decision, Pennsylvania talc lawsuits appear to be on the rise.
Colgate-Palmolive Settles to Avoid Further Litigation
The complaint in this case alleged that Colgate-Palmolive failed to warn customers its talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos, a mineral long known for its carcinogenic risks.
In the last few years, numerous studies have found strong links between exposure to asbestos-containing talc and mesothelioma – particularly among women, whose genital use of talc has also led to gynecological and ovarian cancers. The mineral has long been known for these carcinogenic risks and is also well-known to occur near talc deposits. However, no effort was made to investigate or resolve any contamination issues, or to make consumers aware of the talcum powder’s potential cancer threats.
According to court filings, Colgate-Palmolive agreed to the settlement in an effort to avoid a trial. Colgate-Palmolive spokesman Tom Dipiazza has yet to comment on the deal, and financial details have not been made public.
Talc-Suit Losses a Growing Norm for Colgate-Palmolive and Others
This case adds to a mounting number of accusations by consumers suffering the consequences of asbestos-laced talc products. In 2016 suit against its now-discontinued Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder, Colgate-Palmolive was ordered to pay $13 Million for design and manufacturing defects, failure to warn of exposure to asbestos, and acting with malice. A California woman had developed mesothelioma after using the product for more than 20 years.
Yet Colgate-Palmolive is not the only talc product manufacturer in the line of fire. Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, often cited in court for its alleged indifference to consumer safety, is at the center of a storm of more than 5,500 cases alleging that its talcum powder caused ovarian cancer.
The latest, involving a woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 3 decades, follows a pattern for which the company has become notorious. These claims argue that Johnson & Johnson deliberately withheld information on links between talc and ovarian cancer, while the company repeatedly denies scientific evidence of any such link or accountability for injuries and refuses to negotiate settlements. Despite this, Johnson & Johnson has lost 5 multimillion-dollar cases and recently revealed indisputable knowledge of its products’ contamination.
Colgate-Palmolive, meanwhile, maintains that some of its products are contaminated while others are not. The company’s defense has challenged plaintiffs to prove they used a contaminated product. Nonetheless, plaintiffs have successfully argued that the manufacturer’s awareness of the presence of asbestos was reason enough to warn.