A man from New Jersey has been awarded $117 million after filing a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming his use of the brand’s talcum powder products had given him the lung disease mesothelioma.
46-year-old investment banker Stephen Lanzo filed a lawsuit against the company and its supplier, Imerys Talc, after being diagnosed with the disease that is often linked to asbestos exposure.
Mr Lanzo claimed the company was aware that its talcum powder products contained carcinogenic asbestos but failed to warn the public about it.
Last week, a jury awarded him $30 million and his wife Kendra $7 million for “loss of consortium”, in which spouses are compensated for any harm caused by a “negligent injury”.
On Wednesday, Mr Lanzo was awarded a further $80 million in punitive damages, taking his total compensation payout to $117 million.
Punitive damages are generally awarded for unethical or negligent actions, but both Johnson & Johnson and its supplier have denounced the danger of talcum powder use.
Both the company and the supplier plan to appeal the verdict.
Mr Lanzo is the first male to file a lawsuit linking a cancer diagnosis with the talcum powder products he used for over 20 years. However, thousands of women have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other companies, claiming a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.
Lawyers for Mr Lanzo claimed Johnson & Johnson had withheld information from the public about the health effects of talcum power since the 1960s.
The powder is made from talc, a soft mineral that is generally found near asbestos deposits.
Previous studies have revealed that there is a risk of cross-contamination between the two during the mining process.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that usually affects the lungs, as well as ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson claimed the company undertakes extensive testing to ensure that none of the products contain asbestos.
"While we are disappointed with this decision, the jury has further deliberations to conduct in this trial and we will reserve additional comment until the case is fully completed," a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson told CNN.