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Jury Hears Opening Statements In 1st Joint Colgate/Johnson & Johnson Cosmetic Talc Trial

Posted by David Siegel on Apr 25, 2019 9:28:15 AM

Schmitz openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Joseph Satterley delivering his opening statement. Click here to see video from the trial

Oakland, CA - An attorney for a 61-year-old woman suffering from mesothelioma told jurors this week in a California state courtroom that asbestos allegedly present in Colgate-Palmolive’s and Johnson & Johnson’s cosmetic talc products caused her fatal illness in the first trial involving the two companies.

Plaintiff Patricia Schmitz sued Colgate and J&J after contracting cancer that she claims was caused by inhaling asbestos fibers supposedly present in products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet.

While previous juries have considered similar claims against J&J and Colgate, resulting in a mix of plaintiff and defense verdicts, Schmitz’s trial marks the first time a jury will hear evidence involving cosmetic talc products from both companies in the same trial.

The case is also just the second involving J&J’s cosmetic talc products to go to trial in Alameda County, an important jurisdiction for asbestos-related litigation.

The full proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

mass torts conference

Schmitz is represented by Joseph Satterley of the Oakland-based law firm Kazan McClain Satterley & Greenwood. Satterley also represented the plaintiff in the only previous trial in Alameda County involving J&J’s cosmetic talc, which ended in a $29.5 million verdict.

Prior to that Satterly’s firm landed a massive $117 million verdict, including $80 million in punitive damages, at the first J&J cosmetic talc trial in the company’s home state of New Jersey.

Both of those trials are included in CVN’s online video archive, and the ongoing trial will be closely watched to see if Satterly adds a third talc verdict in another first-of-its-kind trial.

J&J is represented at trial by a team from King & Spalding, a firm with numerous talc trials under its belt, led by Los Angeles-based partner Alexander Calfo. King & Spalding also represented J&J at a talc trial last month in Los Angeles that settled shortly after opening statements, along with a lengthy trial last summer that ended in a mistrial, and the first J&J talc/mesothelioma trial nationwide, which ended in a defense verdict.

All three trials are also available to subscribers in CVN’s online video archive.

Colgate is represented by Foley & Mansfield and Barnes & Thornburg. While this is the first Colgate trial webcast and recorded by CVN, the company has, like J&J, seen a mix of plaintiff and defense verdicts in prior talc cases.

Both Colgate and J&J argue their cosmetic talc products never contained asbestos and accuse plaintiff attorneys of relying on faulty science in claiming a link between talc exposure and mesothelioma.

Heading into the summer, J&J faces the prospect of numerous concurrent cosmetic talc trials, which take weeks and sometimes months to complete. Another trial is scheduled to begin next month in Los Angeles, followed by additional trials in South Carolina and New Jersey.

The current case 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 dsiegel@cvn.com

Topics: product liability