First New Jersey Talcum Powder Case Headed To Trial Over Mesothelioma Diagnosis

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Jury selection in the first talcum powder case to go to trial in New Jersey state court began last week, with the opening arguments scheduled to begin next Tuesday over the link between talc and mesothelioma. 

The lawsuit alleges that exposure to talcum powder caused the development of the rare and often deadly form of cancer, because it allegedly contains asbestos-like properties, or actual asbestos fibers. The trial begins just a month after a similar case in California ended in a multi-million dollar verdict.

The complaint was filed by Stephen Lanzo III and Kendra Lanzo against Johnson & Johnson, and Cyprus Amax Minerals, Co., and the trial will be heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Middlesex County.

The case is the latest in a number of recent trials over the mesothelioma risk with talc powder products that contained asbestos or had asbestos-like qualities that have been linked to the development of the deadly form of lung cancer.

In October 2014, a study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health identified a potential link between an unnamed, but popular, brand of talc powder and asbestos exposure, suggesting that use of the product may have caused the death of at least one unidentified woman due to mesothelioma.

Concerns about the link between mesothelioma and talc powder stretch back decades, with local health officials in Baltimore requesting that the FDA investigate asbestos in talc powder as far back as 1972.

In April 2016, Colgate-Palmolive was ordered to pay $1.4 million to a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to Cashmere Bouquet talc powder. Colgate-Palmolive reached an undisclosed settlement  in November over another talcum powder asbestos claim. Another talc mesothelioma trial in November, involving claims against Johnson & Johnson, ended in a defense verdict.

Last month, a California jury awarded $17.57 million in compensatory damages and another $4.6 million in punitive damages to the family of a man who died of mesothelioma in 2016 after years of exposure to talc.

In addition to concerns over the mesothelioma risk, thousands of Johnson Baby powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower body powder lawsuits are being pursued against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company failed to warn about the risk that talc contained in those popular products may cause adult women to develop ovarian cancer after application around the genitals.

Over the past year, a number of talcum powder ovarian cancer cases have gone before state court juries, with many resulting in multi-million dollar damage awards over Johnson & Johnson’s failure to adequately warn about the risks associated with their products.

While Johnson & Johnson is pursuing appeals in each of the cases and refusing to negotiate talcum powder settlements for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, some analysts suggest that the recent verdicts may be a sign of future problems for the manufacturer, due to signs that juries find Johnson & Johnson’s trial defense lacking in credibility.

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