Oakland, CA - Opening statements in the first cosmetic talc trial to include both Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive as defendants are set for early next week in California state court, and the proceedings will be webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Both companies have faced trials over claims their cosmetic talc products contain asbestos, but the case filed by plaintiff Patricia Schmitz in Alameda County marks the first time jurors will simultaneously hear evidence about both Colgate and J&J’s products in same trial.
Schmitz’s case will also be just the second lawsuit involving J&J’s cosmetic talc products to go to trial in Alameda County, a key jurisdiction for asbestos-related mesothelioma litigation. The only previous such trial (also recorded and webcast by CVN) ended in March with a $29 million verdict in favor of plaintiff Terry Leavitt.
The same plaintiffs firm responsible for that verdict, Kazan McClain Satterley and Greenwood LLP, also represents Schmitz in the current case.
The pending trial will be closely watched due to the involvement of the two largest defendants in the now sprawling cosmetic talc litigation pending in courts throughout the country, to see how a second Alameda County jury weighs in on a J&J talc case, and to see if Kazan McClain can go 3-for-3 in cosmetic talc cases. Prior to the Leavitt verdict, they landed a $117 million verdict (also recorded and webcast by CVN) at the first J&J talc trial in the company’s home state of New Jersey.
Both J&J and Colgate argue their cosmetic talc products never contained asbestos and accuse plaintiff attorneys of relying on flawed scientific conclusions to pursue multi-million dollar verdicts.
The companies have both seen mixed results in taking cosmetic talc cases to trial.
So far Colgate faced fewer trials, and the plaintiff verdicts they’ve received didn’t generate the same national attention as awards against J&J, some of which have reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and one case last summer in Missouri resulting in a verdict in excess of four billion. Appeals of all those verdicts are pending, with some already overturned.
In 2015 a California jury hit Colgate with a $13 million verdict, and another trial in 2016 ended in a defense verdict. Earlier this year a California judge granted a motion for a non-suit in Colgate’s favor after a four-week trial.
Colgate also demonstrated a willingness to settle cosmetic talc claims earlier than J&J, settling one case on the eve of trial as recently as last summer.
J&J only began striking cosmetic talc settlements in December, first to scuttle what would have been the company’s first such trial in New York City, and later settling cases in Oklahoma and California.
However aside from the Leavitt verdict, the majority of J&J’s recent cosmetic talc trials ended in defense verdicts or mistrials.
The most recent defense verdicts occurred earlier this month in Los Angeles, and a verdict last month in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which was the company’s second consecutive win before a hometown jury.
The pending trial in Oakland, which will be webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by CVN, is taking place before Judge Frank Roesch.
The case is captioned Patricia Schmitz v. Johnson & Johnson, et al, case number RG18923615 in Alameda County Superior Court.
E-mail David Siegel at email@example.com