Johnson & Johnson Offers $8.9B to Settle Talc Lawsuits

If approved, settlement would cover all current and future claims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
Resolution Could Be Forthcoming in Johnson & Johnson Talc Lawsuits
FILE - A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed on April 15, 2011, in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Johnson & Johnson is earmarking nearly $9 billion to cover allegations that its baby power containing talc caused cancer, more than quadrupling the amount that the company had previously set aside to pay for its potential liability, the AP reports. Under a proposal announced Tuesday, a J&J subsidiary will re-file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seek court approval for a plan that would result in one of the largest product-liability settlements in US history. The $8.9 billion that J&J would transfer to the subsidiary, LTL Management, would be payable over the next 25 years. The amount is up from the $2 billion that the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company set aside in October 2021. The revised amount is being backed by more than 60,000 parties that have filed lawsuits alleging harm from J&J talcum powder, according to the company.

J&J isn't admitting any wrongdoing as part of the proposed settlement, a point that company executive emphasized in a Tuesday statement that maintained the claims “are specious and lack scientific merit.” But fighting the lawsuits in court would take decades and be expensive, said Erik Haas, J&J's worldwide vice president of litigation. The lawsuits filed against J&J had alleged its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, through use for feminine hygiene, or mesothelioma, a cancer that strikes the lungs and other organs. The claims contributed to drop in J&J's sales of baby powder, prompting the company to stop selling its talc-based products in 2020. Last year, J&J announced plans to cease sales of the product worldwide.

"This settlement is a testament to the tens of thousands of women who have battled both cancer and the court system to achieve justice for themselves," says an attorney from a law firm representing some plaintiffs, per the Wall Street Journal. “These strong women have ensured that no other woman will be exposed to this unnecessary danger. They deserve compensation and closure.” But a lawyer for some of the other plaintiffs disagrees, per the New York Times: “Even though $8.9 billion sounds like a lot of money, when you spread it out it comes out to not very much at all for the people who suffered." A bankruptcy court and 75% of claimants must approve the plan before it is finalized; if approved, all current and future claims involving talc products made by J&J will be resolved. (More Johnson & Johnson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.