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J&J, Imerys unit must pay $117 million in New Jersey asbestos cancer case

Reuters  |  NEW YORK 

By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) - and Imerys America, a unit of , must pay $117 million in damages in a case involving a man who said he developed due to his exposure to in talc-based products, a state court jury said on Wednesday.

The jury ordered the companies to pay an additional $80 million in punitive damages to after awarding him and his wife $37 million in compensatory damages during the first stage of the trial last Thursday.

The verdict by jurors in New Brunswick, New Jersey, came in the second trial nationally to focus on claims that J&J's products contained as the company separately fights thousands of cases claiming they can also cause ovarian

was ordered to pay $55 million and the Imerys unit $25 million of the punitive damages award, according to an of the trial by Courtroom View Network.

The decision marks the first trial loss for J&J over allegations that its talc-based consumer products, such as Powder, contain The company denies the allegations, saying its powders do not contain or cause

J&J in a statement said it would continue to defend the safety of its Baby Powder and immediately begin appealing the verdict, adding that it had been prevented from presenting important evidence to the jury.

"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," the company said.

Imerys America in a statement said it planned to appeal the decision, adding that it stood behind the safety of its products. "The evidence is clear that (Lanzo's) exposure came from different sources," the company said.

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

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

Last Thursday, 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 the unit of France-based Imerys SA, its supplier, was responsible for 30 percent.

"We are gratified that justice was achieved and that our clients will be fairly compensated," Moshe Maimon, who represented the Lanzos, said in a statement

J&J shares closed down 0.5 percent.

New Brunswick-based J&J faces talc-related lawsuits by 6,610 plaintiffs nationally, largely based on claims it failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian by using its products for feminine hygiene.

In five trials in involving ovarian lawsuits, juries found J&J liable four times and awarded the plaintiffs a total of $307 million. In California, a jury awarded a now-deceased woman $417 million.

But in October, a appellate court threw out the first verdict there for $72 million and a judge tossed the $417 million verdict. J&J is seeking to reverse the other verdicts.

claims are a more recent challenge for J&J. It won the only other asbestos-related trial in November when a Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled in its favor.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon; editing by and Phil Berlowitz)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 02:30 IST