Will 3rd Time Be the Charm for Johnson & Johnson?

Proposed settlement to resolve ovarian cancer lawsuits a lot like its first two plans
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2024 1:10 PM CDT
Johnson & Johnson Has Plan to Settle Cancer Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson is proposing paying around $6.5 billion over 25 years to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Johnson & Johnson has a new plan to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits alleging that asbestos in its talc-based products, including baby powder, cause ovarian cancer—and it has a lot in common with the company's previous two plans. Johnson & Johnson has proposed a settlement of almost $6.5 billion over 25 years, which it says will resolve more than 99% of the lawsuits. Details:

  • Previous efforts. Reuters reports that courts rejected two previous efforts to resolve the lawsuits through the bankruptcy of a subsidiary set up for the purpose, LTL Management.
  • The new plan. The new plan also involves a Chapter 11 filing for the subsidiary, but claimants will have three months to vote on it. If at least 75% are in favor, the deal can proceed, ending litigation. "The claimants get to vote, and that's the major difference here," Erik Haas, the company's worldwide vice president of litigation, told investors Wednesday.

  • Company has put $11 billion aside. Johnson & Johnson said it is setting aside a total of $11 billion to deal with the talc litigation, the BBC reports. That's up from almost $9 billion it said it had earmarked in a settlement proposal last year. The company also faces talc-related lawsuits involving mesothelioma, another form of cancer linked to asbestos, but it says it has resolved 95% of them.
  • Lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson says it has won 95% of ovarian cancer lawsuits that have gone to trial and it hasn't lost a case in six years, reports Reuters. In 2018, it was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families, but the judgment was later reduced to $2.12 billion. If the deal is approved, it would prevent any future suits.
  • Background. The Guardian notes that talc is a "naturally occurring mineral that can appear alongside asbestos in mines." Johnson & Johnson has called the lawsuits "meritless," though investigations, including one by the New York Times in 2018, found that the company long had concerns about asbestos. It has now replaced talc with cornstarch in its baby powder.
(More Johnson & Johnson stories.)

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