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Litigation

California Jury Awards $13 Million In Couple’s Asbestos-Tainted Talc Case

 

LOS ANGELES — (Mealey’s) A California jury on April 28 awarded a couple more than $13 million in a mesothelioma case alleging asbestos exposure from tainted talc.  It is the first asbestos-tainted talcum powder verdict against Colgate-Palmolive Co., sources told Mealey Publications (Judith and John Winkel v. Calavaras Asbestos Ltd., et al., No. BC549253, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.). 

Judith and John Winkel filed suit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming that she contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos.  Judith Winkel allegedly suffered exposure while using Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.  The Winkels claimed that the talc used in Cashmere Bouquet contained asbestos. 

The case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California but remanded in March 2015. 

$13M Award

The case proceeded to trial on consumer expectations, risk-benefit, manufacturing defect, failure to warn and negligence claims against Colgate-Palmolive and Calaveras Asbestos Ltd.  The court granted Calaveras’ motion for nonsuit on April 27. 

The jury deliberated for two hours before awarding the Winkel’s $13 million, according to sources.  The award consists of $125,000 in past medical bills, $508,000 in other economic damages; $1 million for past noneconomic damages; $10 million in future noneconomic damages and $1.4 million for John Winkel’s loss of consortium, sources said. 

The jury apportioned 95 percent of the liability for Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma on Colgate-Palmolive, according to sources. 

Sources said the jury found for the Winkels on all 21 jury questions, including finding Colgate-Palmolive negligent in the design, manufacture or sale of Cashmere Bouquet; that the negligence was a substantial factor in Judith Winkel’s disease; that Cashmere Bouquet failed to perform as an ordinary consumer would expect and that the design was a substantial factor in Judith Winkel’s harm; that the risks of Cashmere Bouquet outweighed the benefits; that Cashmere Bouquet contained a defect when it left Colgate-Palmolive’s possession and that the defect was a substantial factor in her disease; that Cashmere Bouquet contained potential risks known or knowable to Colgate-Palmolive; that Cashmere Bouquet presented a substantial danger and that ordinary consumers would not have been able to identify the risk; and that the lack of warning was a substantial factor in Judith Winkel’s injuries. 

Liability

Sources said the jury apportioned 1.5 percent of the liability each to nonparty defendants Johnson Tractor, and Sears, Roebuck & Co. and 1 percent each to nonparty defendants Caterpillar Inc. and Robert Hart & Sons. 

The jury found that Colgate-Palmolive acted with malice, but the case settled prior to the punitive damages phase.  

Judge Randy Rhodes presided. 

David Greenstone, Kyle Tracy and Chris Panatier of Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett in Dallas represent the Winkels.  Melanie L. Ameele and Darren P. Johnson of Foley & Mansfield in Los Angeles represent Calaveras.  Joey Dean Horton of Quinn, Emanuel, Urqhart & Sullivan in Los Angeles represents Colgate-Palmolive.

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