J&J Close to Reaching Mesothelioma Settlements to Resolve Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson officials have told investors that the company is close to reaching a global mesothelioma settlement agreement, which would resolve all talcum powder lawsuits involving allegations that asbestos particles caused users to develop the rare and deadly form of cancer.
The manufacturer faces more than 70,000 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits, each involving similar claims that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing various different types of cancer. While most of the claims involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a smaller number of claims involve users diagnosed with mesothelioma from asbestos in talcum powder.
In a meeting Tuesday at the New Your Stock Exchange, a Johnson & Johnson attorney told investors that the company has made progress toward a settlement for all talcum powder mesothelioma lawsuits. According to a Bloomberg News report, the company has already reached tentative settlement agreements to resolve about 100 such cases.
The deal comes as the manufacturer faces a number of rapidly approaching trial dates and new lawsuits that are being filed, after a two year stay on all litigation was lifted by a U.S. bankruptcy judge earlier this year.
After Johnson & Johnson was hit with a number of massive jury verdicts in prior years, the company engaged in a controversial talcum powder bankruptcy scheme in 2021, by transferring all liability it faced to a new subsidiary that was immediately placed into bankruptcy. However, after multiple appeals and repeated filings, the bankruptcy was ultimately rejected in August 2023, clearing the way for active talcum powder litigation to resume in courts nationwide.
Most of the U.S. claims are currently pending in a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which has been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey since 2016.
Recent Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlements
There have been indications in recent weeks that Johnson & Johnson was seeking to resolve the talcum powder mesothelioma lawsuits before any additional claims went to trial. Last month, just before trials were to begin, Johnson & Johnson announced it had reached settlements resolving two mesothelioma injury claims brought by Rosalino Reyes and Marlin Eagles.
Reyes’ case first went to trial in California state court in 2020, but ended in a mistrial when Reyes died of mesothelioma during the trial. Reyes’ trial had recommenced last month, and the jury had just been chosen for Eagle’s trial when the settlement was announced.
While the company has confirmed that it is working on resolving additional mesothelioma lawsuits, no details on the potential global settlement have been released, including how many claims may be settled as part of the deal.
December 2023 Talcum Powder Lawsuit Update
After Johnson & Johnson’s first two bankruptcy attempts were rejected, the federal judge presiding over the litigation expressed his intentions to move the talcum powder ovarian cancer cases forward quickly in September, and released a pretrial schedule in October that put the six bellwether cases back on track to go before juries.
Each of these lawsuits involve similar allegations that women developed ovarian cancer after regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene.
While the outcome of these individual trials will not affect other cases, the verdicts are likely to have significant influence on the value of any talcum powder cancer settlement Johnson & Johnson may be required to pay to avoid the need for tens of thousands of cases to be remanded back to federal courts nationwide for trial in the coming years.
However, in an earnings call to investors in October, the lead attorney overseeing talcum powder litigation for Johnson & Johnson indicated the company hopes to file for a third bankruptcy in Texas, as part of a consensual resolution and settlement agreement.
This time, the company claims it plans to file in the federal bankruptcy court in Texas. The leniency of the Texas courts toward companies trying to file for bankruptcy, to avoid expensive tort litigation that they could easily afford, is why the tactic became known as the “Texas Two-Step.”
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