Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier have been ordered to pay $80 million in punitive damages to an investment banker who said the pharmaceutical giant's baby powder caused him to develop life-threatening mesothelioma.
In a verdict delivered Thursday, a New Jersey state jury in New Brunswick found J&J acted with reckless indifference for selling talcum powder that allegedly contained asbestos. Stephen Lanzo III, 46, said he used the company's baby powder for 30 years before contracting the cancer. Last week, the jury ordered J&J and supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. to pay $37 million in compensatory damages.
The jury's decision was the first to find that the health-care company's baby powder led to a mesothelioma diagnosis and the first talcum powder case to involve a male plaintiff. More than 6,600 women have filed suit claiming the firm's product caused them to contract ovarian cancer.