Johnson & Johnson, supplier hit with $80M verdict in cancer suit

Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier will have to cough up an extra $80 million to a New Jersey man who says he got cancer from the company’s baby powder, a jury said Wednesday.

The pharmaceutical giant was ordered to pay $55 million in punitive damages to Stephen Lanzo III and his wife, Kendra, by a jury in New Brunswick, N.J. Imerys Talc America, a division of French company Imerys S.A., was ordered to pay $25 million, Reuters reported.

Lanzo and his wife won $37 million in compensatory damages last week during the first part of the trial. Lanzo, 46, claims he contracted mesothelioma by inhaling powder dust laced with asbestos.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. While talc itself is not dangerous, the mineral is often mined near asbestos, which causes mesothelioma.

During the trial, company lawyers argued Lanzo could have gotten mesothelioma from other sources, including a childhood home that had asbestos-wrapped pipes, according to media reports.

J&J denied that its products contain cancer-causing toxins and says it plans to appeal.

Confirmed by Sam Costanza and Elizabeth Keogh on 04/06/18 during a doorknock at couple's home.

Lanzo (r.) and his wife, Kendra.


“Johnson’s Baby Powder has been used for more than 120 years and it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma,” said spokeswoman Carol Goodrich. “We believe that once the full evidence is reviewed, this decision will be reversed.”

This is the first trial loss for Johnson & Johnson over allegations that its talc-based products contain asbestos, Reuters reported.

The company is currently fighting more than 6,000 ovarian cancer lawsuits across the country.

Imerys Talc America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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