When you think of a person being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you imagine that their exposure to asbestos came from years of factory or construction work or from contaminated insulation in their workplace — not from a household product. But a New Jersey jury hearing a lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnsons has determined that’s exactly what happened to 46-year-old Stephen Lanzo. After 30 years of using the consumer giant’s baby powder or Shower to Shower talc product, the banker has been diagnosed with the rare and deadly form of cancer, and he submitted evidence showing that it was because the talc in the powder was contaminated by asbestos. The jury has awarded Lanzo and his wife $37 million in compensatory damages, and is currently considering assigning punitive damages as well.
Stephen Lanzo’s mesothelioma lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson’s is far from the only asbestos-related case to be filed against the company. Thousands of women are blaming asbestos in baby powder and talc products for their ovarian cancer, and there are many others who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma who have cases pending too. At the center of their claims are two basic facts: that they had no other exposure to asbestos and had used the product for years, and that a company scientist had written a confidential memo decades ago warning of the company’s legal liability should the public ever learn that their powder products contain asbestos. Though Johnson & Johnson denies that the company has ever used asbestos-contaminated talc and says that it has conducted extensive testing to guard against asbestos contamination, the evidence presented at trial convinced the jury otherwise.
The $37 million mesothelioma verdict was broken down into $30 million for Mr. Lanzo and $7 million for his wife Kendra, and the blame was split, with 70% of liability assigned to Johnson & Johnson and 30% to Imerys Talc, which provided the talc to the company. Both companies have continued to defend themselves.
If you have been impacted by mesothelioma, whether as a consumer, secondhand exposure or occupational exposure, we can help. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about your rights.