J&J Files Lawsuit Against Doctors Who Linked Talc to Cancer

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Junk science. That’s what Johnson & Johnson is calling scientific studies that link talc-based personal care products with cancer. The multinational corporation, which has worldwide sales of over $93 billion, is suing four researchers who published the studies, demanding a retraction or correction to conclusions that talc products contaminated with asbestos could cause mesothelioma, Reuters reported.

According to Levin Papantonio Rafferty Attorney Chris Tisi, who is a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the national talc litigation (In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2738 ), J&J’s move is just the latest in a new wave of defense tactics.

“By suing doctors and scientists, J&J hopes to silence researchers who expose their unsafe and defective products,” Tisi said. “Consumers should be very concerned about what it would mean for public safety if J&J is successful in canceling scientists who challenge false claims of safety.”

J&J made its move days before a jury ruled in favor of a man who claimed to develop mesothelioma after a lifetime of using Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. Plaintiff Emory Hernandez Valadez testified during trial that he would have avoided using J&J’s baby powder had the company warned him its product contained asbestos. The California man was awarded $18.8 million on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, Valadez will have to wait to collect the judgment, thanks to another J&J defense tactic: the Texas Two-Step Bankruptcy. In October 2021, J&J created subsidiary LTL Management, LLC, to carry J&J’s liabilities related to talc litigation. LTL then filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection, despite its parent company having more than $400 billion and holding $31 billion in cash and marketable securities. The bankruptcy claim resulted in a bankruptcy court order freezing most of the company’s talc litigation.

On April 4, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit instructed Bankruptcy Court Judge Kaplan to dismiss LTL’s Chapter 11 petition saying it breached Bankruptcy Code section 1112(b)’s good-faith standard: “At base level, LTL, whose employees are all J&J employees, is essentially a shell company ‘formed,’ almost exclusively, ‘to manage and defend thousands of talc-related claims….'”

Judge Kaplan officially dismissed the case that day. Two hours and 11 minutes later, LTL filed its second bankruptcy motion, prompting a statement from the Ad Hoc Committee of Certain Talc Claimants accusing J&J of making “a mockery of the Third Circuit’s Opinion, Judgment, and Mandate, and of our justice system.”

Tisi and LPR Attorney Cameron Stephenson represent hundreds of plaintiffs in talcum powder lawsuits who developed ovarian cancer after decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder with talc.

As of July 17, 2023, there are 37,543 cases pending in MDL 2738.