Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will face a new trial on the issue of punitive damages, following the $12 million awarded in compensatory damages to plaintiff Patricia Schmitz on June 12, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma due to exposure to talcum powder. Recently, Judge Frank Roesch rejected the request from J&J to involve Colgate and Avon in punitive damages.
During a hearing in Oakland, California, the judge set July 8 for the opening argument and rejected J&J's request to wait until it has filed an expedited appeal. Also, the judge rejected J&J's argument that the new jury should be told about the decision from the previous jurors that J&J and Colgate-Palmolive, both were at 40% fault, with the remaining 20% against Avon which made up the compensatory verdict. Schmitz's case was given trial preference because she is dying of mesothelioma, and ordered jury selection to begin as soon as possible.
J&J is facing nearly 14,000 talcum powder lawsuits, each raising a common allegation that asbestos exposure from the company’s talc-based products causes ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J., and Hon. Lois H. Goodman, U.S.M.J., are presiding over all J&J's talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2738; In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation) in the District of New Jersey.