A man got $117 million after baby powder 'gave him cancer'

By Hayley April 13, 2018
Image: Johnson & Johnson

Baby powder - the product so harmless you literally use it on babies. Well, not if you ask this guy.

Baby powder - the product so harmless you literally use it on babies. Well, think again.

New Jersey man Steven Lanzo just won $117 million after suing a talcum power company, claiming he contracted a lung disease after using their products for over 30 years.

The 46-year-old filed the suit against Johnson & Johnson and supplier Imerys Talc after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs. This type of cancer is often linked to asbestos.

The products he used included Shower to Shower and Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Lanzo claimed there was carcinogenic asbestos in the product, and that the coompany knew this - and failed to alert their consumers.

Mr Lanzo was awarded $30 million, with an additional $7 million for his wife in spouse compensation for harm caused by negligent injury, and an extra $80 million in punitive damages.

7 News report that thousands of women have sued companies selling talc products claiming a link to ovarian cancer - but this was the first lawsuit of its kind from a man.

Talc deposits are mined from the earth near deposists of minerals that contain asbestos. Johnson & Johnson say it has been a legal requirement ince the 1970s to ensure their products are asbestos-free.

A spokesperson from Johnson & Johnson Pacific released this statement:

“Johnson’s Baby Powder has been used for more than 120 years and it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma. After suffering multiple losses through court rulings and at trial, plaintiff’s attorneys have shifted their strategy and are now alleging that talcum powder is contaminated with asbestos, despite multiple independent, non-litigation-driven scientific evaluations, which have found that our baby powder does not contain asbestos.

"Throughout this trial, we were prevented from presenting evidence we believe would have been important to the jury in their deliberations, which forced us to file multiple mistrial motions. We will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder and immediately begin our appeal, and we believe that once the full evidence is reviewed, this decision will be reversed.”

A spokeswoman for talc supplier Imerys released a statement sympathising with Lanzo’s illness, but suggesting his asbestos exposure “came from a different source such as the asbestos found in his childhood home or schools”, saying a recently published study proved “workers who mined and milled talc all day over the course of more than 50 years… did not find a single case of mesothelioma.”