For years, Johnson & Johnson hid from consumers the fact its talcum powder products contained asbestos by using tests that wouldn’t detect the cancer-causing mineral, according to attorneys for a man suing the consumer health care company over claims the products caused him to develop mesothelioma.
Stephen Lanzo III claims that he used Johnson & Johnson products daily – including Johnson’s Baby Powder – for about 40 years, never knowing that the talcum powder contained asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral often found in talc. When inhaled, it can cause malignant mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. The cancer often takes years or even decades to develop following asbestos exposure.
During closing arguments, Johnson & Johnson’s attorneys argued that the company’s products could not have caused Mr. Lanzo’s disease because they tested the talc through the years but no asbestos was ever detected.
But Mr. Lanzo’s attorneys said that Johnson & Johnson’s testing was “unreliable,” and their methods only checked for asbestos above a certain threshold.
Also named in Lanzo’s lawsuit are Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., and Cyprus Amax Minerals Co., a predecessor of Imerys. Lanzo’s is the second trial blaming Johnson & Johnson’s talc-containing products of containing asbestos and causing mesothelioma. The first went in favor of the defendants.
Both the defense and plaintiffs in Lanzo’s case have delivered closing arguments after a nearly two-month-long trial. The jury has begun deliberations.
Johnson & Johnson is also facing claims that its talcum powder products – including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower – used regularly for feminine hygiene caused women to develop ovarian cancer.