Johnson & Johnson Proposes $6.5B Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit Settlement Offer in Yet Another Bankruptcy Plan

The third Johnson & Johnson talcum powder bankruptcy settlement comes after judges have previously rejected prior attempts to force claims through the U.S. Bankruptcy system, since the manufacturer faces no financial distress.

Johnson & Johnson has announced a $6.5 billion talcum powder ovarian cancer settlement offer, which seeks to force the resolution for tens of thousands of claims through yet another bankruptcy filing.

The company faces about 54,000 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits, each involving similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other injuries.

The litigation began in 2016, however, following massive jury awards returned in cases that went to trial several years ago, the manufacturer first attempted to initiate a controversial talcum powder bankruptcy scheme in 2021, by transferring all liability it faced for failing to warn women about the talcum powder cancer risks to a new subsidiary, which then immediately filed for bankruptcy protection.

U.S. bankruptcy judges rejected the attempts, after finding that Johnson & Johnson faces no real financial distress and has sufficient assets to cover the liability for failing to warn about the talcum powder cancer risks. However, the move delayed the litigation for more than two more years, and the company is now poised to delay the cases again for a third time.

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Talcum powder or talc powder may cause women to develop ovarian cancer.

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Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Settlement Offer

On May 1, Johnson & Johnson issued a press release indicating that it is proposing a “consensual prepackaged reorganization” plan to resolve 99.75% of all talcum powder cancer lawsuits pending in the U.S. through another bankruptcy filing.

According to the plan, the company would pay $6.475 billion to settle all current and future claims brought by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The company also indicates it has reached an agreement in principle to resolve all talc-related bankruptcy claims filed by suppliers, such as Imerys Talc America and Cyprus Mines Corporation.

The plan does not address talcum powder lawsuits over mesothelioma injuries, but the company indicates it has already resolved 95% of those claims.

The settlement would be paid over 25 years and claims attorneys representing the overwhelming majority of current ovarian cancer claims helped develop the plan. However, the company made similar claims during previous attempts at talcum powder bankruptcy settlement, which ended up being aggressively challenged by plaintiffs lawyers and claimants who are seeking individual trial dates in the U.S. civil court system.

The settlement plan is similar to one proposed in April 2023, which called for a much higher $8.9 billion talcum powder lawsuit settlement fund, which involved an attempt to settle all of the talcum powder injury claims. However, the deal was widely criticized by plaintiffs who had been litigating their claims for years, and opposed any attempt to force the lawsuits through a bankruptcy process.

Critics also claimed the $8.9 billion settlement significantly under-valued claims brought by plaintiffs, and are unlikely to be impressed by an offer more than $2.5 billion less.

Johnson & Johnson’s press release urged claimants to accept the deal, claiming they will likely get much less through trials, which the company believes it will win.

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