A New Jersey couple has been awarded a total of $37 million in a case they brought against Johnson & Johnson. Stephen and Kendra Lanzo claimed that years of using the company’s talcum powder products led to different forms of cancer.
A Middlesex County jury sided with the couple, awarding Stephen $30 million in damages and Kendra $7 million. Stephen, a banker, claimed that years of using Johnson & Johnson products such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower led to his diagnosis of mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is typically linked to asbestos, a mineral that has been regulated in talc products since the 1970s. Talc products run the risk of cross-contamination with asbestos because deposits are often found in close proximity to the minerals that make up asbestos.
Although the company denies that their products contain asbestos, they are facing similar lawsuits throughout the country, including one case in South Carolina that begins in May. This was the first lawsuit Johnson & Johnson has faced in New Jersey, where the company is based. Johnson & Johnson won an asbestos-related case in California last November.
Despite the company claiming that their products are not contaminated with asbestos and that they perform thorough testing to ensure that it’s products are safe, the New Jersey jury agreed that the company did not do enough to protect their customers. Besides the asbestos-related cases, Johnson & Johnson is also facing thousands of cases related to talcum powder causing ovarian cancer.
In the Lanzo’s case, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay 70% of the $37 million, while their supplier, Imerys Talc, was ordered to pay 30%. Both companies denied any wrong doing and said they are disappointed with the jury’s decision.
A spokesperson for Imerys Talc went so far as to say that Stephen Lanzo’s cancer was caused by asbestos exposure during his childhood, and not their products. The company claims that they follow all of the FDA’s strict rules and that their products are safe to use.
The Lanzo’s case is not over yet. The jury begins the second phase of the trial on Tuesday to consider other possible repercussions for both companies.