31 Aug 2023

Talc Lawsuit Updates

In recent history, Johnsons & Johnson has been the subject of several lawsuits. Plaintiffs are alleging that they got cancer from using Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder that was contaminated with asbestos. To defend against the allegations and lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has attempted to file bankruptcy twice. These claims began back in 2018 when J&J lost a $4.7 billion lawsuit in a consolidated talc trial in Missouri involving 22 women and their families. The jury’s award in Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson was lowered to $2.1 billion on appeal, but the U.S. Supreme Court did not toss the verdict.

In 2021, J&J created a subsidiary, LTL Management. The plan was to have the company assume control of the talc operations, including the parent company’s talc liability. After this, the business would file for bankruptcy protection, in hopes that J&J could reduce its exposure to talc lawsuits.
LTL Management recently proposed an $8.9 billion dollar settlement to address all the claims. In July, however, a federal judge dismissed plans to bankrupt the business, suggesting that LTL Management was not in financial distress for the same reason that the first lawsuit ruled that the company was not in financial distress.
J&J is planning on an appeal—their spokesperson for their law team, the Vice President of litigation posted that “the bankruptcy code does not require a business to be engulfed in ‘flames’ to seek a reorganization supported by the vast majority of claimants.”

How Many Have Filed Claims?

At last count, it is believed that some 60,000 people have filed claims against J&J regarding the talc claims. The multidistrict litigation involves nearly 38,000 cases in litigation on behalf of ovarian cancer victims. Attorneys have proposed the same six bellwether cases that were part of the original trial plan. However, cases are not limited to the multidistrict litigation, dozens more including claims of mesothelioma victims which assert that their diagnoses are linked to J&J talcum powder could restart litigation in state courts in Missouri, Georgia, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

These talc trials would be the first against J&J in two years, separate from one particular case that ended on July 18th in an $18.8 million verdict for a 24-year-old man in California who was dying from mesothelioma. Tens of thousands of plaintiffs are still ambling for litigation and the number could still rise.

Plaintiffs in the litigation have requested that the court stop any future attempts on the part of the company to pursue bankruptcy protection for six months moving forward. Given the circumstances of the litigation and the sheer number of plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits, one lawyer believed that a temporary stay on seeking bankruptcy filings was appropriate give the number of plaintiffs still seeking litigation due to the allegations that J&J talcum powder tainted with asbestos was linked to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma in tens of thousands of cases. J&J claims that they will vigorously fight all claims that seek to lay blame on J & J for the development of cancer in users of the talc products.