A recent verdict finding manufacturer fault for cancer-causing asbestos in talc products has culminated with an order for Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys, to pay $80 million in punitive damages – on top of compensatory damages of $37 million for plaintiff investment banker and his wife – to make for a combined total verdict of $117 million.
The jury ruled that both companies were aware for years their talc contained traces of asbestos – a carcinogen that’s the only known cause of a rare terminal cancer called mesothelioma.
This verdict in Lanzo v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co. – which focused on J&J’s Shower-to-Shower product – is important not just for the sheer dollar amount, but also for the fact it is the second such case nationally to go to trial on claims that J&J’s talc products contained harmful asbestos – a fact that was concealed from consumers. Some legal analysts are calling this a “precedent-setting case for U.S. talc litigation.” One of plaintiff’s lawyers was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying this verdict sends a clear message to halt sales of this product, “because it’s dangerous and can kill people.”
J&J is fighting some 6,600 asbestos in talc injury lawsuits alleging use of its products caused ovarian cancer in unsuspecting consumers. This verdict and the subsequent damages awarded in this case may open up a whole new front of litigation for plaintiffs who allege harm caused by asbestos in talc. The outcome serves not only tarnish the brand, but it’s likely spur more asbestos in talc lawsuits in the months to come. Read More