Johnson & Johnson $117M baby powder verdict overturned by appeals court

NEW BRUNSWICK – An appeals court has reversed a $117 million award on an Essex County couple’s claim that the husband developed cancer after his long-term exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder-based products.

A Superior Court jury in Middlesex County awarded Stephen Lanzo III and his wife Kendra Lanzo, of Verona, $80 million in punitive damages and $37 million in compensatory damages from J&J and Imerys Talc America in an April 2018 trial.

But a state appellate court on Wednesday overturned the award and ordered new trials in the case.

J&J welcomed the court’s opinion.

“The Appellate Division’s careful opinion is consistent with decades of independent scientific testing confirming our talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer,” the company said in a statement. “The court struck at the core strategy of the plaintiffs’ bar, concluding that paid experts are not allowed to present junk science that purports to find asbestos where there is none. These unproven theories have been the centerpiece of the talc litigation, and today’s opinion marks an important rejection of that approach.”

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