Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Imerys SA (IMTP.PA) must pay at least $37 million in a lawsuit claiming a man developed cancer due to his exposure to asbestos in talc-based products including Johnson's Baby Powder, a New Jersey state court jury said on Thursday.
The Lanzos' case is just the second to go to trial over claims that asbestos supposedly present in J&J's talc products caused mesothelioma, a fatal cancer that affects tissue lining around the lungs.
J&J is seeking to fend off Lanzo's claims as it grapples with a wave of cases targeting the company's baby powder and former Shower-to-Shower product for allegedly causing life-threatening illnesses. About 6,600 women have sued the world's largest health-care company blaming the powder for causing their ovarian cancers.
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.
Other companies, including Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Proctor & Gamble Co., have also been accused of allowing asbestos to contaminate talc in their cosmetic products. Colgate-Palmolive Co. agreed a year ago to settle a lawsuit claiming its talcum-powder products caused a Pennsylvania woman to develop mesothelioma.
"J&J knew nearly 49 years ago there was asbestos in their talc, " Moshe Maimon, one of Lanzo's lawyers, told the seven-woman jury in his closing statement. J&J sold Shower-to-Shower to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.in 2012.
During the more than two-month trial, Lanzo's lawyers produced stacks of internal J&J and Imerys files that showed officials of both companies were anxious that asbestos was tainting talc used in baby powder and other products as early as 1969.
Imerys spokesperson Gwen Myers told CVN the company will appeal the jury's decision, noting that studies of miners who were exposed to talc on a daily basis didn't show any link between the mineral and mesothelioma. He added the company has never warned consumers that tests have found asbestos in its baby powder. He said the New Jersey home Lanzo grew up in had asbestos insulation around pipes and his schools underwent multiple asbestos-abatement projects while he attended them.
The New Jersey Superior Court for Middlesex County jury reached the verdict earlier this afternoon. Hon.
Jurors are set to weigh claims that using Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused a deadly cancer linked to asbestos.