Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, PC of Oakland, CA announces a $117 million verdict for their clients Stephen and Kendra Lanzo, formerly of Lafayette, CA. A jury this week found that Johnson’s Baby Powder contained asbestos, and that Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. and its supplier Imerys Talc America, Inc. failed to adequately warn consumers of this fact, and further that Johnson & Johnson had a safer alternative design in cornstarch.
The jury awarded the Lanzo’s $37 million dollars as compensation for Stephen Lanzo’s asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, with 70% to Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. and 30% to Imerys Talc America, Inc. The jury also awarded $80 million in punitive damages.
Trial counsel Joe Satterley explained that this historic victory was based on newly revealed confidential documents: “For the first time the jury was allowed to see secret, internal company documents showing that these companies knew that Johnson’s talc Baby Powder contains asbestos. As a result, the jury unanimously found that Johnson’s Baby Powder contained asbestos. Johnson & Johnson should stop selling Johnson’s talc Baby Powder and replace it with cornstarch.”
The confidential company documents also revealed that Johnson & Johnson in 1969 created “Project 101.” Project 101 showed that Johnson’s talc Baby Powder contained asbestos, and that it could cause cancer. Project 101 warned that in “forty years” the company could face litigation. In 1975, Johnson & Johnson’s talc mining subsidiary noted the presence of asbestos in the Vermont talc used in Johnson’s Baby Powder, and warned that it was a “severe health hazard.”
Imerys Talc America, headquartered San Jose, California, is the exclusive talc supplier to Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America. Imerys had also found asbestos in the Vermont talc mines in 1975, yet proceeded to purchase these mines and sell this talc for use in Johnson’s Baby Powder. An internal email revealed that Imerys failed to test the talc supplied for Johnson’s Baby Powder for four years, despite certifying to its customers that it had done so. Imerys’ confidential documents also showed that Imerys fought off regulation of its talc sales by creating “confusion” with the regulatory agencies, and by turning its regulatory efforts into a “game” as set forth on a “License to Market” monopoly board. On this board, a skull and cross bones and “DANGER” were placed next to squares marked “Public perception” and “Litigation.”
The case name is Stephen and Kendra Lanzo v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. and Imerys Talc America, Inc. The Lanzo’s were represented at trial by Joseph Satterley and Denyse Clancy of Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, P.C of Oakland, California and by Moshe Maimon of New York and New Jersey- based Levy Konigsberg, L.L.P.