The final witness, mineralogist Matthew Sanchez, took the stand on May 28 in an Oakland, CA court case against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -1%) and Colgate-Palmolive (CL -1.4%) claiming that their talcum powder products caused cancer in plaintiff Patricia Schmitz.
Mr. Sanchez is an expert witness who earns ~$500K a year rebutting accusations that the companies' talc products contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. He works for a firm called RJ Lee Group whose sole purpose is providing expert testimony for talc-cancer litigation defendants. He testified that he failed to find asbestos in the samples tested from a mine in Italy, but admitted that he did not test samples from mines in Montana and North Carolina, two other sources of raw talc used by the firms. Experts for the plaintiff stated that they identified asbestos fibers and bundles in talc samples from these mines.
The case is unusual in that CL is a defendant. JNJ is currently defending itself in thousands of other lawsuits.
Closing arguments are next up before the case goes to the jury.
Update: In a New York trial, the jury just ordered JNJ to pay $300M in punitive damages related to the alleged link between its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products with plaintiff Donna Olson's cancer. Its total bogey in the case is now $325M. An appeal is a certainty.
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