• Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay Millions in Damages Over Talc-Based Mesothelioma
  • May 7, 2018
  • On Wednesday, April 11, jurors in New Brunswick, New Jersey ordered Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier—Imerys Talc America—to pay $117 million in damages to a man suffering from mesothelioma. This verdict was announced in the second of two trials so far alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products contain asbestos.
    The plaintiff, Mr. Stephen Lanzo III, presented evidence that he developed mesothelioma due to his exposure to asbestos in talc-based products sold by Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit claimed that he developed the deadly form of cancer after inhaling dust from his regular use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based product over nearly 46 years.
    Jurors ordered the companies to pay Mr. Lanzo $80 million in punitive damages in addition to $37 million in compensatory damages. In determining whether punitive damages were warranted, jurors were required to establish that the companies’ acts were either malicious or involved willful disregard for the plaintiff’s rights. The six jurors voted unanimously that Imerys had met that standard and voted 5-1 that Johnson & Johnson had met the criteria for liability as well. Johnson & Johnson was held responsible for 70 percent of all damages, while Imerys Talc America was found to be liable for 30 percent of the remaining sum. The total award to the couple now stands at $117 million—the largest sum a jury has awarded in a talcum powder mesothelioma case.

    New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 6,600 talc-related lawsuits nationally, largely based on claims that the company failed to warn women about the potential risk of developing ovarian cancer associated with the use of talc-based feminine hygiene products. Reports suggest that Johnson & Johnson executives may have known about the asbestos laced talcum powder more than 40 years ago but chose to neglect the information in a bid to protect their baby products line.