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No Rest for the Weary: Plaintiffs Attorney Comments on J&J’s $700 Million Deal to Resolve States’ Talc Baby Powder Claims

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and representatives for more than 40 states attorneys general are thrashing out terms for an agreement that would settle states’ talc-based baby powder claims, Bloomberg Law reported Monday.

Forty-two states have launched a joint investigation into J&J’s marketing practices—specifically, the company’s alleged failure to warn about possible health risks linked to use of talc products. If the pact passes muster from all parties, it will ward off potential lawsuits from these states (Mississippi and New Mexico have already filed marketing lawsuits against J&J for allegedly failing to disclose talc products’ health risks).

Bloomberg underscored that a settlement agreement has not yet been reached with the 42 state claimants, per Florida AG Spokesperson Ashley Moody.

Besides these state claims, the multinational pharmaceutical and medical technologies corporation is battling more than 50,000 talcum powder lawsuits from women who allege J&J’s talc products caused claimants to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

According to these lawsuits, corporate executives have known since the early ‘70s that the talc used in J&J products contained asbestos, a known carcinogen.

Levin Papantonio Rafferty Attorney Chris Tisi is a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the national talc MDL (MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation) and a committee representative of the Official Committee of Talc Claimants (TCC).

He expressed mixed feelings about the tentative J&J settlement agreement with state claimants.

“We are glad to see that J&J is finally starting to take responsibility for its failure to protect the public for decades,” Tisi said. “We cannot rest, however, until all the women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder have been taken care of. J&J needs to be accountable for all the damage it has caused.”

J&J, a $500 billion company, has filed two bankruptcy petitions in efforts to resolve talc lawsuits in bankruptcy court. Both petitions failed.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have remarked the bankruptcy tactics aimed to avert jury trials and succeeded in stalling justice for claimants. "In the last few years, there has been an effort by Corporate America to hide from their responsibilities in bankruptcy court after doing untold damage to American consumers," said LPR Attorney Mike Papantonio in a July statement following U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan’s dismissal of the J&J’s second bankruptcy petition.

In October 2023, Papantonio penned a letter to the legal community urging plaintiffs’ attorneys to stand up against J&J’s “abuse of bankruptcy.”

“Had J&J's bankruptcy ploy succeeded, our clients would have been victimized yet again—not only by suffering from a deadly cancer at the hands of its product—but also by being denied their right to a trial by jury and being forced to accept pitifully inadequate compensation through the bankruptcy plan,” Papantonio said.

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