Last June, a jury in California found Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive and Avon Products jointly liable for Patricia Schmitz’s malignant mesothelioma, and awarded the woman $2 million in economic damages and another $10 million in noneconomic damages. One month later Mrs. Schmitz succumbed to her cancer, and in response Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive filed motions for the court to vacate the portion of her verdict created to address her pain and suffering and to open a new trial to reheat the evidence. Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch has denied both Johnson & Johnson’s request regarding the compensation and Colgate-Palmolive’s request for a new trial.
Companies argue there is no pain and suffering after death
In a remarkably cynical legal move, Johnson & Johnson argued that because Mrs. Schmitz had died of her mesothelioma, she was no longer entitled to an award for pain and suffering. Their motion to set aside and vacate the judgment was denied.Colgate had also argued that the jury’s verdict was not supported by the evidence presented at trial and requested a new trial, but the judge also denied this request.
The original jury verdict had assigned 40 percent of the blame for her death to Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and their subsidiary Johnson a& Johnson Consumer Inc. 40 percent responsible, and Avon 20 percent responsible, despite the fact that the company had successfully avoided being named as a defendant in the trial due to the fact that the California court had no jurisdiction over them.
Companies also arguing against paying victim’s legal fees
In addition to trying to negate the jury’s verdict on pain and suffering, the companies also filed motions to void having to pay the mesothelioma victim’s litigation costs. Johnson & Johnson had been assigned to pay some of the costs that its lawyers say belonged to Colgate and Avon, but the judge rejected that request as well, saying that Mrs. Schmitz couldn’t only sue Johnson & Johnson because she had used products from all three companies, and that her costs were “attributable to the whole case.”
Asbestos companies fight against having to pay mesothelioma victims at every step, but there are resources available to protect their rights. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.