Faced with tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming that its iconic talc-based baby and body powders cause cancer, Johnson & Johnson is accused of attempting to avoid paying the claims by creating a separate “Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder” company, for the sole purpose of having that company file for bankruptcy. Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy plan has been widely condemned by critics who are calling the company’s attempt to avoid liability for the talcum powder lawsuits an “injustice” and “an unconscionable abuse of the legal system.” If you or someone you love developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, or another serious health problem after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder, contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out how we can help you with your legal claim.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to establish a $2 billion trust for the purpose of resolving current and future claims brought against the company over its talcum powder, which tens of thousands of lawsuits allege causes mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Earlier this month, the company put those talcum powder funds into a newly created company called LTL Management LLC, which then filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. “This [bankruptcy] filing is intended to resolve all claims related to cosmetic talc in a manner that is equitable to all parties, including any current and future claimants,” the company stated in a press release issued on October 14, 2021. “Johnson & Johnson and its other affiliates did not file for bankruptcy protection and will continue to operate their businesses as usual.”
While Johnson & Johnson has framed the bankruptcy plan as “a means to achieve an equitable and efficient resolution of the claims raised in the cosmetic talc litigation,” critics see the maneuver as a ploy to limit the company’s liability for talcum powder claims and avoid paying thousands of cancer victims the damages they deserve. After all, while LTL Management pursues this so-called “equitable resolution,” all talcum powder cases against Johnson & Johnson will be temporarily halted pending the outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings, which could take years, time many of the plaintiffs may not have. Plaintiffs involved in the litigation are also concerned that the bankruptcy filing could put a cap on the amount they receive, as the total amount Johnson & Johnson is required to pay to resolve current and future talcum powder claims will now be determined by the bankruptcy court.
There have been close to 40,000 talcum powder lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in courts across the country in recent years. The claims all center around the allegation that Johnson’s talc-based powders cause cancer and that the company knew for decades that its talc sometimes contained asbestos, a known carcinogen, and failed to warn consumers or federal regulators. Many of these claims were brought by women who routinely used Johnson’s Baby Powder on their genital area for feminine hygiene purposes and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Other claims allege that asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused users to develop mesothelioma, a potentially deadly cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, heart, stomach, and other organs.
Despite tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming otherwise, Johnson & Johnson maintains that its talcum powder is safe and does not contain asbestos. However, the FDA found traces of the carcinogen in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder purchased from an online retailer, which led to a massive talcum powder recall in October 2019. The following spring, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would be permanently discontinuing its talc-based baby powder in North America because of declining demand “due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.” Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson offered to set aside $4 billion to cover current and future talcum powder settlement and verdicts, which is double the company’s current offer. However, the settlement was rejected by attorneys representing plaintiffs with claims against the company, each of whom would have only received about $40,000.
This new bankruptcy plan of Johnson & Johnson’s may temporarily delay talcum powder claims, but that doesn’t mean victims can’t still sue the healthcare company for their cancer diagnosis. For more information about the ongoing talcum powder cancer litigation or to find out if you qualify for a talcum powder settlement, contact Consumer Safety Watch today.