Johnson & Johnson is on the defense yet again, as a New Jersey talcum powder lawsuit plaintiff headed to court in a bid to convince a jury that the company’s popular products were responsible for his mesothelioma.
The case, which is currently underway in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court, is the nation’s second such trial and the first in the state.
Plaintiff Stephen Lanzo III, 46, claims that his use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder throughout his life is the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma diagnosis. The deadly form of cancer is caused by the inhalation of asbestos.
During opening statements on January 29th, Lanzo’s attorney pointed out that talc and asbestos naturally occur together. He further alleged that Johnson & Johnson made numerous unsuccessful attempts to remove asbestos from its talc in the 1970s.
“If you try so hard to get it out, it’s because it is there,” the lawyer said.
The attorney also told jurors that asbestos detected in Lanzo’s tissue samples matched the type allegedly present in Baby Powder.
Johnson & Johnson’s argues that the science used to back Lanzo’s claims was faulty. The company also contends that his asbestos exposure could have come from his childhood home or school.
The country’s first trial involving Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and mesothelioma concluded in November, after a California Superior Court jury found for the company.
Johnson & Johnson has also been named in more than 5,500 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly develop ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene purposes.
Since February 2015, several talcum powder ovarian cancer plaintiffs have been awarded multi-million-dollar judgments ranging from $55 million to $417 million. Recently, however, a judge in California overturned the $417 million verdict because of accusations involving juror misconduct and other issues.
A $72 million verdict awarded to an out-of-state plaintiff in Missouri’s talcum powder litigation was also tossed to comply with new standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California.
Colgate-Palmolive is facing around 170 similar talcum powder lawsuits in courts around the country. In 2015, the company was ordered to pay $13 million in a California mesothelioma lawsuit involving Cashmere Bouquet.
Late last year, the company agreed to settle another Cashmere Bouquet lawsuit for an undisclosed amount. The mesothelioma settlement allowed the company to avoid going to trial in New Jersey Superior Court.