After its first bankruptcy bid was rejected before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Johnson & Johnson waited just hours to re-file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to again attempt to protect itself from its talcum powder liability. Of the first bankruptcy filing, the US Trustee (within the Department of Justice) determined that J&J should not be allowed to use a small unit’s bankruptcy case to end tens of thousands of cancer lawsuits because the strategy is rooted in bad faith.
The effects of such a sham move would be enormous, as a successful re-bid for bankruptcy could encourage other companies to try the same move. The lawsuits filed against J&J allege that its talcum powder, contained in its baby powder products, caused users to develop ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
This time, J&J is also earmarking nearly $9 billion to cover claims related to its asbestos-containing talc. “While $8.9 billion may sound like a lot of money, it’s just another unlawful attempt by J&J to abuse our country’s bankruptcy system for its own benefit while cheating cancer victims of their day in court”, Alex Caggiano explains.
Unsurprisingly, J&J still will not admit any wrongdoing as part of its proposed settlement. Thankfully, however, J&J has since taken its talcum powder baby products off the market.
This time, a small handful of plaintiffs’ law firms (primarily related to the ovarian cancer lawsuits) are cooperating with J&J in order to receive funds for their clients, while obstructing the path for any potential future claimants with valid lawsuits, but who have not yet been diagnosed with any disease. The settlement would resolve all current and future claims against the company for its talc products, meaning that those not yet diagnosed would be barred from making a claim in the future. Meanwhile, the lawyers who represent mesothelioma victims continue to fight vehemently against this bankruptcy filing.