A settlement was reached Monday between Colgate-Palmolive and a Whittier man who sued the company, alleging he developed mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos fibers present in baby powder made by one of the conglomerate’s predecessor firms, the Mennen Co.
Paul M. Garcia, now 67, maintained in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed in May 2017, that his exposure to asbestos caused his cancer and that Colgate knew for years that the Mennen baby powder likely contained particles of the mineral, but withheld the information from consumers.
The two sides had spent the last several days picking a jury. The settlement was announced just after the lunch break.
No terms were divulged.
Colgate-Palmolive lawyers argued in court papers that their client’s products never contained asbestos and that there is no reliable scientific evidence linking such exposure to mesothelioma. Colgate-Palmolive acquired the Mennen Co. in 1992.
Garcia said he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in February 2017. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the name given to the cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen.
Garcia alleged that his asbestos exposure resulted from his mother’s occasional used of a maximum of two bottles of Mennen Baby Powder on his genitals during diaper changes from his birth in June 1951 until he was toilet-trained in 1953.
Colgate-Palmolive lawyers maintained that the asbestos exposure alleged by Garcia was “trivial,” but that the plaintiff was definitively exposed to asbestos at Continental Can, where he worked for more than a decade. Garcia also was employed as a probation officer for 16 years at Pasadena Superior Court, where air samples on the floor where he worked confirmed that asbestos levels “far exceeded background levels,” according to the Colgate-Palmolive attorneys’ court papers.
Asbestos was not an ingredient in the baby powder, according to the defense lawyers.
“There is no evidence of any intentional act by Mennen to include asbestos in its product…,” the Colgate-Palmolive attorneys stated in their court papers.