In a landmark mesothelioma lawsuit filed against consumer giant Johnson & Johnson, a New Jersey jury has awarded compensatory damages of $30 million to a man diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, and another $7 million to his wife.
The couple’s suit accused the company’s “Shower to Shower” and “Baby Powder” products of having been contaminated with asbestos, and to make matters worse, that Johnson & Johnson had been aware of the problem and had taken no action to warn or protect the public.
The mesothelioma victim in this case is 46-year-old Stephen Lanzo, who says that he has been using Johnson & Johnson’s products for over three decades, and that those products were contaminated with asbestos which he inhaled during its use.
Similar claims were made against the company by other victims of asbestos-related disease, including people who claimed that use of talcum powder products genitally has caused their ovarian cancer.
Though Johnson & Johnson has defended itself and argued that their products do not contain the carcinogenic material, evidence submitted in the case revealed that a scientist working for the corporation specifically mentioned asbestos contamination of the company’s talc in a confidential internal memo in 1969.
That information played a key role in the trial, and may have an impact on the next phase of the jury’s decision: on Tuesday they are set to consider punitive damages, which are generally assessed as punishment for unethical or negligent actions.
This mesothelioma lawsuit is not the first one to be filed against Johnson & Johnson and other talc companies, and it will definitely not be the last.
Another trial is scheduled to be heard by a jury in South Carolina in May, and there are thousands of others that are in preliminary phases. The company’s co-defendant in the case was Imerys Talc, which supplied Johnson & Johnson with the talc in their product.
The jury determined that Johnson & Johnson was 70% responsible for Mr. Lanzo’s illness, and the mineral company was liable for 30%.
If you or someone you love has been impacted by mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you need to know where your exposure came from and what your options and resources are. For help, contact our Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.