A New Jersey state jury on Wednesday slammed Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier with combined punitive damages of $80 million after finding that the pharmaceutical giant acted with reckless indifference in selling asbestos-containing talcum powder that contributed to a man’s development of mesothelioma.
Nearly a week after jurors hit J&J and Imerys Talc America Inc. with a $37 million verdict in compensatory damages, they determined that the additional punitive damages were warranted because the companies acted in wanton and willful disregard of the rights of plaintiff Stephen Lanzo III and his wife.
The jury awarded $55 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and $25 million against Imerys.
In his closing argument Wednesday in the punitive damages phase of the trial, Lanzo attorney Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg LLP urged jurors to tell the companies in a “loud voice” to stop selling baby powder that contained talc and never commit such misconduct again.
“Your voice should be loud. It should be so loud that all the arguments that they make cannot drown out your voice. They should not be heard to tell you that you’re wrong,” said Maimon, referring to J&J. “They should not be heard to say we hear you, but nothing changes.”
Lanzo and his wife Kendra, also a plaintiff in the case, have alleged that Lanzo’s decades-long exposure to J&J’s talcum powder products — starting when his mother applied baby powder to him as an infant in the 1970s — contributed to his developing mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung.
On their first full day of deliberations in the trial, which has lasted more than two months, the jury on April 5 found that J&J’s products, including its baby powder, contained asbestos and that Lanzo’s exposure to the toxic mineral in the products between 1972 and 2003 played a substantial role in his contracting the deadly disease.
Jurors awarded compensatory damages of $30 million to Lanzo and $7 million to his wife. Johnson & Johnson was ascribed 70 percent of the blame and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., was given 30 percent.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO TALCUM POWDER , THE HANNON LAW FIRM HAS EXPERIENCE THAT CAN HELP.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to talcum powder, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal system and seek justice.
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