J&J Working to Settle More Asbestos Related Talc Cases

Legislation & Litigation

Johnson & Johnson is trying to resolve some of the thousands of lawsuits filed claiming its talc-based baby powder causes cancer. J&J’s in-house lawyer overseeing the talc litigation Eric Haas, said during an investor call that the recent settlements covered cases involving plaintiffs with mesothelioma. 

In hopes of eventually reaching a global settlement, the company announced that three law firms settled around 100 cases in the first week of December 2023. Haas didn’t reveal any further details about the dollar amounts of the settlements, the identity of the law firms involved, or exactly how many people the deal affects.

“We have made recent progress over the last few weeks” Haas told investors when speaking about resolving  groups of legal cases from plaintiffs alleging they developed mesothelioma from asbestos-contaminated baby powder. He also said the company has resolved all but one of the cases scheduled for trial in 2023. 

“Our intention with talc is to bring resolution to these cases,”  J&J Chief Executive Officer Joaquin Duato told investors. Duato noted settling the cases would allow the company to “spend our days” on treatment advancement.

J&J Legal Issues

Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 50,000 talc lawsuits in connection to claims that its baby powder is tainted with asbestos and can cause cancer. Most of the plaintiffs are women with ovarian cancer. J&J argues its products aren’t asbestos-contaminated and are safe.

The company is considering a third attempt at filing for bankruptcy after courts rejected the move twice. J&J tried two Chapter 11 filings through its subsidiary LTL Management. A judge dismissed both attempts, saying the company didn’t qualify for bankruptcy protection since it was not in financial distress.

For its third attempt J&J may attempt to move its legal liabilities to Texas. According to the Wall Street Journal, the move would need to involve one of Johnson & Johnson’s existing businesses already in Texas in order to establish a venue. The strategy is known as the “Texas Two-Step.”

Potential Risks of Talcum Powder

Asbestos and talc are naturally occurring minerals that can be found near each other within the earth. When talc is mined for commercial purposes, it can become contaminated with asbestos. Talcum powder has been used in personal hygiene products like Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, cosmetics and industrial products.

Contaminated talc has the potential to cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma.

Uncontaminated talcum powder dust can also irritate the respiratory system and cause shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital say breathing in talcum powder could lead to lung problems or even death.

In 2020 Johnson & Johnson stopped selling its talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. Instead of talc, the product is now cornstarch-based. J&J said the decision to stop selling the talc-based product was because of a decline in sales and what the company claims is “misinformation” about the product’s safety.

legal scale of justice icon
Access Trust Funds, Grants & Compensation for Mesothelioma
Get Financial Assistance