Following a protracted delay in the cases due to Johnson & Johnson's decision to pursue a much-derided bankruptcy filing, the first jury trial concerning accusations that talcum powder causes cancer in two years has started in California.
More than 38,000 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson involve similar claims that the company neglected to disclose the possibility of ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other injuries from toxic asbestos particles that are frequently present in the products.
Johnson & Johnson decided to pursue a contentious talcum powder bankruptcy scheme by transferring all liability it faced for failing to warn consumers about the cancer risk into a new entity, LTL Management, LLC, which then immediately filed for bankruptcy following a series of significant jury verdicts in lawsuits that went to trial several years ago.
Legal professionals blasted the action as an exploitation of the American bankruptcy system right away because Johnson & Johnson is sitting on billions of dollars' worth of assets. The submission, however, led to a stay of all proceedings and stopped any further cases from being filed or continuing to trial. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently rejected the bankruptcy application, it looks like that will change in the upcoming months. This decision sets the ground for active litigation to restart all talcum powder complaints in 2023.
As soon as the corporation had exhausted its appeals, the U.S. Bankruptcy judge in New Jersey, who is presiding over the case, indicated in February that he intended to dismiss the bankruptcy and lift the present stay on the litigation. He did, however, permit one case to proceed in California state court involving a man with a bleak prognosis. The plaintiff in that trial filed a talcum powder complaint, alleging that Johnson & Johnson's asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused him to acquire mesothelioma.
As Johnson & Johnson is putting up a worldwide settlement proposal for talcum powder, which would once more drive the case through the federal court system, the trial is anticipated to be carefully monitored. While the verdict in this particular case will not be conclusive on other claims, it may influence continuing settlement discussions and the amount plaintiffs are willing to pay to resolve other claims.
Johnson & Johnson said in April that it intended to resolve all talcum powder litigation through an $8.9 billion fund that would be paid over 25 years, covering all existing and future claims. This announcement came as the US Courts were getting ready to start efforts to prepare a significant number of claims for trial anew. Leading plaintiffs' attorneys in the litigation have roundly rejected the offer, stating that it is too low, once again attempts to limit restitution to plaintiffs, and would severely limit payouts for future claims, which have not yet been filed because it can take years for ovarian cancer and other illnesses linked to the use of talcum powder to be detected. The offer resulted in yet another bankruptcy filing by its LTL, Management subsidiary.