New Jersey couple awarded $37 million in talcum powder case

New Jersey couple awarded $37 million in talcum powder case

A jury awarded $30 million to a man who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using talcum powder for decades.

Johnson & Johnson maintains that its products are not carcinogenic and have never contained traces of asbestos fibers. He claimed that inhaling dust from the products containing cancer-causing asbestos gave him mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.

Lanzo alleged that 30 years of inhaling products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, and the asbestos it supposedly contained, caused his mesothelioma.

Lawyers for the Lanzos argued that the company had been holding back information about health risks of the products since the 1960s.

One of Lanzo's lawyers, Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg in NY, told the jury in his closing argument of a 1969 company memo that was introduced into evidence.

But there's more. The jury is to now decide whether the couple should also be awarded millions in punitive damages next week, which are generally assessed as punishment for unethical or negligent actions. His wife, Kendra, was awarded $7 million. It found J&J was responsible for 70 percent of the damages and said a unit of France-based Imerys SA (IMTP.PA), its talc supplier, was responsible for 30 percent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors potential safety problems with cosmetic products such as talcum powder, but there are no U.S. laws or regulations that strictly prohibit talc used in consumer products from containing asbestos.

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"Talc did not cause Mr. Lanzo's cancer, " Gwen Myers, an Imerys spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.

Asbestos-related lawsuits are the most recent challenge for the pharmaceutical giant.

A possible floodgate against Johnson & Johnson?

. It won the only other asbestos-related trial in November when a Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled in its favor.

"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 email.

The majority of the cases are based on claims that the company failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer by using its products for feminine hygiene. That said, two of the verdicts that a year ago ruled in favor of plaintiffs have been reversed, according to the New Jersey Law Journal. But lawyers for J&J, cross-examining Webber, asked why his report did not mention other tests which showed the company's products were free of asbestos.

A possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer was first noted when a 1971 study found talc particles in ovarian tumors.

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