$37M: Did Johnson and Johnson baby powder give NJ husband cancer?

Daniel Fowler
April 7, 2018

"JOHNSON'S Baby Powder products contain only U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) grade talc, which meets the highest quality, purity and compliance standards", a statement on the company's website reads.

J&J attorney Michael Brock of Kirkland & Ellis LLP told jurors that the plaintiffs based their case on debunked studies, and that the company subjected its talc products to rigorous testing to confirm they did not contain asbestos.

J&J won the first case to go trial over mesothelioma claims tied to its baby powder when a California jury ruled in November that the product wasn't responsible for causing a 61-year-old woman's cancer.

Banker Stephen Lanzo was awarded $30 million dollars in compensatory damages by a New Brunswick, N.J. jury. He claimed inhaling the powder caused the cancer, which impacts the lining of the lungs.

Johnson & Johnson now faces more than 6,600 talc-related lawsuits.

Lanzo's case was just the second to go to trial and the first in New Jersey, the home state of J&J.

JNJ stock fell 2.5% on Friday.

Deposits of talc are often located near naturally occurring asbestos, allowing for the risk of cross-contamination.

Johnson & Johnson will be liable for 70 percent of the damages with the other 30 percent falling on France based, Imerys Talc, a supplier of the mineral.

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A New Jersey couple claiming that Johnson and Johnson talcum powder led to the husband developing cancer has led to a $37 million payout.

The suit brought by Lanzo and his wife Kendra claims that the company knew the products were contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos but did nothing to warn the public.

In five trials in Missouri involving ovarian cancer lawsuits, juries found J&J liable four times and awarded the plaintiffs a total of $307 million. But lawyers for J&J, cross-examining Webber, asked why his report did not mention other tests which showed the company's products were free of asbestos.

Also testifying for Lanzo was James Webber, an environmental health consultant, who told jurors J&J's talcum products contained asbestos.

A record-setting verdict for mesothelioma linked to talcum powder came in 2016, when a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded Philip Depoian $18 million against cosmetic talc distributer Whittaker, Clark & Daniels.

The American Cancer Society says it isn't clear whether talc products increase a person's cancer risk. An upcoming trial contending cancer from the use of talcum powder is scheduled for May in SC.

More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the US.

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer closely associated with exposure to asbestos.

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