Johnson & Johnson, maker of the once popular Johnson’s Baby Powder, plans to fight an attempt by its talc supplier, Imerys Talc, to force the company to pay for consumers’ talcum powder-related asbestos injury claims. There are currently more than 35,000 lawsuits pending in federal court that accuse Johnson & Johnson of knowing that its talcum powder products contained asbestos and failing to warn users that they could face an increased risk of ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. If you or someone you love is suffering from cancer and you believe Johnson’s talcum powder to be the cause, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. We understand how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be, and we can help you navigate your legal options as the massive talcum powder litigation continues to unfold.
Imerys Talc, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, faces liability in the growing talcum powder litigation due to claims that the talc it supplied to J&J for use in the company’s best-selling baby powder products was contaminated with asbestos and caused consumers to develop mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. A known carcinogen that occurs in close proximity to talc in the earth, asbestos is capable of causing cancer if fibers are inhaled or ingested, or through other means of exposure. The majority of the talcum powder litigation centers around women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes and have since been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. However, a growing number of talcum powder cancer claims involve former talcum powder users who were diagnosed with mesothelioma, the only known cause of which is exposure to asbestos.
Faced with an onslaught of product liability claims accusing the company of withholding information about the health risks associated with its talc and the asbestos particles it allegedly contained, Imerys Talc filed for bankruptcy in 2019, to manage the costs associated with the mounting litigation. In 2020, Imerys Talc was purchased by a Canadian company called Magris Resources Canada, Inc., “under proceedings commenced by the sellers under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.” In July 2021, however, Imerys Talc’s original parent company, Imerys SA, filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the manufacturer was liable for the cost of the talcum powder litigation it faced. Last week, J&J filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, citing a series of indemnity contracts between itself and Imerys’ predecessors, which J&J claims do not cover the type of asbestos claims Imerys is facing.
The legal battle between J&J and Imerys Talc unfolds while J&J considers its own bankruptcy options, a controversial move many see as a deliberate effort to avoid paying talcum powder settlements to thousands of plaintiffs who have suffered injuries allegedly caused by Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc-based products the manufacturer marketed as safe for decades. The lawsuits against J&J each involve similar allegations that Johnson’s Baby Powder causes cancer and that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers that its talc-based products contained asbestos. Johnson & Johnson previously attempted to avoid liability for talcum powder cancer claims by asking the court to exclude expert testimony linking talcum powder to cancer based on the Daubert standard, which is a standard used by trial judges to assess the validity of expert witnesses’ scientific testimony. However, the federal judge overseeing the talcum powder litigation rejected J&J’s “junk science” argument, clearing the way for the first federal talcum powder trials to go to court, which is expected to happen next year.
Despite thousands of claims alleging a cancer risk from asbestos-contaminated talcum powder, J&J stands by the safety of its signature talc-based powder products, maintaining that they are safe and do not contain asbestos. Yet a groundbreaking New York Times report published in 2018 revealed that J&J knew for decades that its talcum powder products were sometimes contaminated with asbestos and deliberately kept this information from the public. In fact, in October 2019, the manufacturer was forced to recall 33,000 bottles of baby powder after small amounts of asbestos were found in a sample of Johnson’s Baby Powder. One year after the high-profile Baby Powder recall was issued, J&J was ordered to pay out more than $100 million to resolve over 1,000 product liability lawsuits claiming that the company’s best-selling baby powder products caused cancer due to asbestos contamination.
J&J finally stopped selling its talc-based power products in the U.S. and Canada in May 2019, amid reports of mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other serious and potentially life-threatening asbestos-related injuries in users. Faced with mounting lawsuits claiming that Johnson’s talcum powder causes cancer, the company refused to admit that its talc-based powders posed any such health risk to users, claiming that it was pulling its talc-based products from the market “due in large part to changes in consumer habits,” which were “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.” If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or another type of cancer, and you regularly used J&J’s talc-based baby powder, you may be eligible to file a talcum powder cancer lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out.