placed its liabilities into bankruptcy its liabilities for dozens of thousands of claims linking talc-based products to cancer, hoping to drive a settlement of personal injury claims that are expected to grow for decades to come.
The healthcare company said Thursday that a corporate affiliate with cosmetic liabilities filed for Chapter 11 protection to resolve all claims related to talc in a manner that is equitable to all parties, including any current and future claimants. The chapter 11 filing makes J&J the latest company to turn to Chapter 11 as a mechanism to settle large numbers of lawsuits over defective products or other harms Victims lawyers had criticized J&J for saying that chapter 11 avoid accountability.
The company s actions underscore the risks it faces from ongoing talc litigation, which totaled roughly 34,600 separate lawsuits linking Johnson baby powder to ovarian cancer, asbestos poisoning and other illnesses.
Thursday's bankruptcy also who voiced worries that J&J would place temp claims into Chapter 11 to stop jury verdicts, protect assets and pressure plaintiffs to accept settlements.
Chapter 11 gives corporate defendants powerful tools to drive legal settlements, such as an automatic halt on discovery proceedings and trials. J&J, which hasn t filed for bankruptcy, said Thursday that it is providing financial backing for a compensation plan that would be hammered out in bankruptcy court.
We are taking these steps to bring certainty to all parties involved in cosmetic talc cases, said Michael Ullmann, J&J executive vice president and general counsel.
J&J has maintained that its Talcum powder, which it sold last year, is safe and doesn't cause cancer, and that numerous tests over the past 40 years didn t show a presence of asbestos. The company took some talc injuries cases to trial in recent years and while some juries have sided with the company, others have returned enormous damage awards, including a that J&J paid this summer.