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CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-J&J loses trial over claims linking cancer to asbestos in talc

From Reuters - April 5, 2018

(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) suffered its first trial loss in a lawsuit claiming its talc-based products including Johnsons Baby Powder contain cancer-causing asbestos, with a New Jersey jury on Thursday ordering J&J and another company to pay $37 million in damages.

The verdict of liability in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick came as J&J fights thousands of cases claiming its talc products can also cause ovarian cancer. The jury found J&J and another company liable after more than two months of trial.

The lawsuit was brought by New Jersey resident Stephen Lanzo, who said hedeveloped mesothelioma after inhaling dust that was generated through his regular use of J&J talc powder products since his birth in 1972.

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer closely associated with exposure to asbestos. It affects the delicate tissue that lines body cavities, most often around the lungs, but also in the abdomen and elsewhere.

The jury awarded Lanzo $30 million and his wife $7 million in compensatory damages. It found J&J was responsible for 70 percent of the damages and said a unit of France-based Imerys SA (IMTP.PA), its talc supplier, was responsible for 30 percent.

The jury will return on Tuesday for further proceedings to determine whether to award punitive damages, according to an online broadcast of the trial by Courtroom View Network.

J&J denied the allegations and says Johnsons Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

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