New Jersey’s first trial involving the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and mesothelioma continued last week in Middlesex County Superior Court, as several expert witnesses took the stand to testify on behalf of the plaintiff.
Stephen Lanzo III, 46, claims that his use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder throughout his life resulted in mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos, a toxic substance that occurs naturally in talc. Lanzo further claims that officials at Johnson & Johnson made numerous unsuccessful attempts to remove asbestos from its talc in the 1970s, but continued to market talc-based powders despite their alleged dangers.
With the trial in its fourth week, Lanzo called on several experts to bolster his case. They included Jacqueline Moline, M.D., an occupational health specialist with the Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, who supported Lanzo’s claim that Baby Powder contained the asbestos that caused his mesothelioma.
Jurors also heard from electron microsopist William Longo, who testified that he found asbestos in more than half of the 32 samples of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products he had examined.
Johnson & Johnson has also been named a defendant in more than 5,500 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene purposes.
Since last February, several juries have returned plaintiffs’ verdicts, with damage awards ranging from $55 million to $417 million. Recently, however, a judge in California overturned the $417 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.
Johnson & Johnson has faced only one other trial involving talcum powder and mesothelioma. That case concluded in November, after a California Superior Court jury found for the company.
Colgate-Palmolive is named a defendant in roughly 170 similar talcum powder mesothelioma clams. In 2015, the company was ordered to pay $13 million in a California mesothelioma lawsuit involving Cashmere Bouquet.
Late last year, Colgate-Palmolive 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.