A New Jersey couple has been awarded a $37 million verdict against J&J and its supplier Imerys Talc America for the talc powder that caused mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos.
J&J was held 70 percent responsible for the damages to mesothelioma victim Stephen Lanzo, III, 46, and his wife, Kendra, in the talcum powder lawsuit. That means the company is liable for $25.9 million.
Its supplier, Imerys Talc America, was held responsible for the rest, or $11.1 million.
This is not the end of the trial though. The next phase will involve a determination whether punitive damages are to be awarded in the case. Punitive damages are only applicable in cases where the actions of the party that caused the damage are so egregious and reckless that they should be punished for their behavior.
In this case, the central question will focus on J&J’s knowledge that their talc powder contained asbestos, a known carcinogen. The Lanzos have already stated that they believe J&J lied to federal regulators to hide the presence of asbestos in their talcum powder products.
Jurors unanimously concluded that that Lanzo was exposed to asbestos from the Johnson and Johnson products between 1972 and 2003.
The six-member panel also unanimously agreed that the company failed to warn the public of its dangerous product.
For decades, J&J’s talc product became synonymous with baby powder thanks in large part to a highly successful and aggressive marketing campaign that extolled the product’s benefits while failing to disclose the dangerous ingredients used to manufacture the product. In fact, the company used a testing methodology they knew would not detect asbestos.