Second Class Action Lawsuit Against J&J Seeks Medical Coverage

Legislation & Litigation

Law firms that recently filed a class action lawsuit seeking to block Johnson & Johnson’s latest bankruptcy attempt have filed a new suit. This latest class action lawsuit seeks coverage of doctor visits and cancer screenings for women who used J&J’s talc-based products.

This case, like the suit the firms filed last month, is before the U.S. District Court of New Jersey. According to the court filings, plaintiffs seek “relief in the form of medical monitoring (i.e., preventative and diagnostic care) for epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer” for those not yet diagnosed with these cancers. 

They also seek punitive damages for those “who have been diagnosed with a Defined Injury as of the date of the Court’s Preliminary Approval and Class Certification Order.” Plaintiffs in this latest suit don’t include the more than 61,000 people with active talc personal injury lawsuits against J&J.

Plaintiffs can include, “all female U.S. resident users of Defendants’ talc-containing products Johnson’s Baby Powder and/or Shower to Shower (hereinafter the “PRODUCTS”) between 1960 and the present.” Women must have “utilized the Product(s) for genital application for a period of more than four (4) years,” according to court documents.

Chris Tisi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement the “inadequate funding” in J&J’s latest bankruptcy plan made this legal action necessary. He noted the company’s plan “doesn’t realistically address the needs of women who could develop ovarian cancer in the future because of past baby powder use.” 

New research from the National Institutes of Health links ovarian cancer to the use of asbestos-contaminated talc. This evidence raises concerns about future asbestos cancer cases.

J&J’s Bankruptcy Attempts

J&J has failed twice in previous bankruptcy attempts. The judge in the company’s most recent attempt ruled the company wasn’t eligible for bankruptcy protection since it wasn’t in financial distress. 

The class action lawsuit filed in May seeks to block J&J’s recent $6.475 billion proposal to settle nearly all of its talc-based claims through bankruptcy. The plan wouldn’t settle any remaining mesothelioma lawsuits. 

Three-quarters of claimants need to support J&J’s bankruptcy proposal to reach approval. The voting period ends on July 26, 2024.

J&J’s worldwide Vice President of Litigation Erik Haas has objected to these legal actions in several statements. He contends the latest action is an extension of filing lawyers’ objections to the bankruptcy plan. 

Haas argues, “The plaintiff firms should cease the obstructionist behavior, and let their clients decide for themselves whether to accept the pending offer.” Johnson & Johnson continues to claim its talc-based products weren’t contaminated with toxic asbestos

Johnson & Johnson’s Talc Cases, Asbestos Connection 

Over the past 10 years at least a dozen juries have awarded a total of more than $6.5 billion in damages to plaintiffs alleging J&J’s talc-based products caused their cancer diagnoses according to Bloomberg News. J&J has also paid an estimated $1 billion on its legal defense in talc cases. 

The company stopped selling talc-based baby powder in 2023 and switched to a cornstarch-based product. J&J says the move was attributed to a decrease in demand for the product and to avoid further “misinformation.”

Talc can easily be contaminated with asbestos since both are naturally occurring minerals that form close together in the earth. If asbestos is ingested or inhaled it can cause a number of asbestos-related diseases, even decades after the initial exposure. Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma.

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