A dying woman is suing Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive alleging their talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos, which caused her to develop mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Patricia Schmitz, 61, used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Colgate-Palmolive’s Cashmere Bouquet for decades never knowing that the talc in the products contained asbestos. She worked as a school teacher until last year, when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs. Schmitz’s cancer developed in the lining of her heart, and has left her unable to do the things she used to do, her lawyer said. Schmitz isn’t expected to live beyond a few months.

Schmitz’s attorney told the California jury during opening arguments that evidence has emerged in recent years that shows that asbestos was found in talcum powders, and that Johnson & Johnson launched a years-long campaign to keep the information from going public. The consumer health care giant even persuaded researchers to change testing results to hide their findings of asbestos in the talc it used in its products, the lawsuit alleges.

Johnson & Johnson has faced several trials over allegations that its talc contained asbestos and caused consumers to develop cancer, including a staggering $4.69 billion verdict in a case brought by 22 women who blamed Johnson & Johnson’s talc products for their ovarian cancer diagnoses. Colgate-Palmolive has faced far fewer lawsuits.

Beasley Allen lawyer Sharon Zinns, who works in the firm’s Atlanta office, is handling claims involving mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure. This includes cases of talc-containing products like cosmetics and body powder, as well as industrial and other exposures.

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