Cancer Patient Scores $37M Win in Talcum Powder Lawsuit

NJ couple receives compensatory damages from Johnson & Johnson for cancer tied to asbestos
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2018 10:48 AM CDT
In this April 15, 2011, file photo, a bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu File)

(Newser) – Stephen Lanzo says he used Johnson & Johnson products for decades, including products with talcum powder (e.g., the company's famous baby powder), and that his aggressive form of lung cancer was brought about by that powder. On Thursday, a jury awarded the New Jersey banker and his wife a total of $37 million in compensatory damages in his suit—$30 million for him, $7 million for his wife, Kendra—making J&J assume 70% of the liability for Lanzo's illness, per CNN. Imerys Talc, the supplier of the talc, a mineral that's been linked to cross-contamination with asbestos when being mined, was hit with the other 30% liability. Reuters notes it's J&J's first loss at trial regarding complaints about its talc products containing asbestos. There are thousands of other cases tying its talc products to ovarian cancer.

In Lanzo's situation, he said he got deadly mesothelioma from inhaling baby powder dust during regular use since his 1972 birth. A seven-woman jury in Middlesex County found both J&J and Imerys concealed the asbestos in their products, which files from Lanzo's legal team indicate they may have worried about as early as 1969, per Bloomberg. J&J insists it has long tested its products for contamination, and Imerys claims any asbestos exposure Lanzo may have had came from somewhere other than its talc. "The evidence was clear that his asbestos exposure came from a different source such as the asbestos found in his childhood home or schools," a spokeswoman says, adding the firm will appeal. The Lanzos may still have punitive damages coming as well; that phase of the trial begins Tuesday. (Read more Johnson and Johnson stories.)

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