J&J loses talc case in New Jersey

Middlesex County residents Stephen Lanzo and his wife claimed years of inhaling the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder caused the husband to develop mesothelioma

J&J loses talc case in New Jersey

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.

Brock also said the Montclair, New Jersey, home where Lanzo grew up had asbestos insulation around the pipes and the schools he attended underwent asbestos removal projects while he was attending.

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.

Banker Stephen Lanzo was awarded $30 million dollars in compensatory damages by a New Brunswick, N.J. jury.

The verdict is the first time a jury has backed a consumer's claims that the company's baby powder causes mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos. The verdict came as J&J fights thousands of cases claiming its talc products can also cause ovarian cancer.

"While we are disappointed with this decision, the jury has further deliberations to conduct in this trial and we will reserve additional comment until the case is fully completed", Carol Goodrich, a J&J spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.

JNJ stock fell 2.5% on Friday. France-based talc supplier Imerys SA is liable for the remaining 30 percent, or $11.1 million.

Since 2016, Johnson & Johnson lost seven lawsuits related to its talcum powder products, however, it is appealing every case.

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.

Johnson & Johnson is now facing 6,610 talc-related lawsuits. He said the company searched for ways to remove asbestos from talc and to make baby powder from other ingredients but ultimately dropped those ideas. Brock, who followed that with a brief history of the company, which was founded in 1886, added, "It's just beyond believable that the good people at J&J would ever sell a product that contained asbestos".

The $7 million awarded to the wife was likely in response to a "loss of consortium" claim, in which spouses are compensated for any harm caused by a negligent injury. The scientist warned the health-care company should ready itself for litigation if the information became public.

On top of the $37 million already awarded the jury could award punitive damages next week, which are generally assessed as punishment for unethical or negligent actions.

Imerys Talc reportedly intends to appeal the decision.

Deposits of talc are often found near sources of asbestos.

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