Johnson & Johnson was hit with $37 million in compensatory damages in a case brought by a man who claimed regular use of the company’s talcum powder products caused him to develop the rare and deadly cancer, mesothelioma.
The more than two-month-long trial involved the case of Stephen Lanzo III and his wife. Lanzo said he used Johnson’s Baby Powder and other Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products since he was an infant. He claimed that the consumer health care giant knew its talcum powders contained the carcinogenic mineral asbestos but hid the information from consumers.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fire-resistant fibrous mineral that is often found in talc. It was used in fire-resistant clothing, insulation, and other products through the decades but is much less used now that it has been linked to malignant mesothelioma, cancerous tumors that form in the lining of the lungs or abdomen.
Lanzo’s attorneys claimed that Johnson & Johnson used lax testing methods that they knew were too weak to pick up asbestos in the talc it used in its products.
The jury awarded compensatory damages of $30 million to Lanzo and $7 million to his wife, Kendra. Johnson & Johnson was found responsible for 70 percent of the damages. Its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., was found responsible for the remaining 30 percent. Jurors were instructed to return Tuesday for a trial on punitive damages in the case.
Lanzo’s trial was the second in the country to blame Johnson & Johnson and Imerys of failing to warn consumers about asbestos in its talc-containing products. The defendants won the first case, tried in state court in California last fall.
Johnson & Johnson also faces lawsuits that regular use of its talc-containing products for feminine hygiene caused women to develop ovarian cancer.
The Lanzos are represented by Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg LLP, and Joseph Satterley and Denyse F. Clancy of Kazan McClain Satterley & Greenwood. They did an outstanding job for their clients. The case is Lanzo et al. v. Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. et al., case number L-7385-16, in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, County of Middlesex.
Source: Law 360