Johnson & Johnson and Imerys SA must pay at least $37 million in a lawsuit claiming a man developed cancer because of his exposure to asbestos in
talc-based products including Johnson's Baby Powder, a New Jersey state court jury said Thursday.
The verdict by jurors in New Brunswick, New Jersey, came in the second trial nationally to center on claims that J&J's talc products contained asbestos as the company separately fights thousands of cases claiming they can also cause ovarian cancer.
The verdict came in a lawsuit by Stephen Lanzo, who alleged that he developed mesothelioma after inhaling dust that was generated through his regular use of J&J talc powder products since his birth in 1972.
Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer closely associated with exposure to asbestos. It affects the delicate tissue that lines body cavities, most often around the lungs, but also in the abdomen and elsewhere.
The jury awarded Lanzo $30 million and his wife $7 million. It found J&J was responsible for 70 percent of the damages and Imerys, its talc supplier, responsible for 30 percent.
The jury will return Tuesday for further proceedings to determine whether it should award punitive damages, according to an online broadcast of the trial by Courtroom View Network.
J&J denied the allegations and says that Johnson's Baby Powder, which has been on the market since 1894, does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.
"While we are disappointed with this decision, the jury has further deliberations to conduct in this trial and we will reserve additional comment until the case is fully completed," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.
Imerys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story was written by Reuters.