Looking to settle allegations of its baby powder and other talc products causing cancer due to incorporation of asbestos, medical industry titan Johnson & Johnson will shell out just under $9 billion in incremental payments over the next quarter century. The agreement, detailed in the company’s recent securities filing, has led J&J subsidiary LTL Management to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a failed initial attempt. The huge payout will line the pockets of the more than 60,000 claimants supporting the resolution, though a bankruptcy court approval is pending.
“Resolving this matter through the proposed reorganization plan is both more equitable and more efficient, allows claimants to be compensated in a timely manner, and enables the company to remain focused on our commitment to profoundly and positively impact health for humanity,” said Erik Haas, J&J’s Worldwide Vice President of Litigation. However, he noted that an official confirmation that the allegations are well-founded is not in the cards. “The company continues to believe that these claims are specious and lack scientific merit.”
The thousands of related lawsuits amassed globally this year has led J&J to halt sales of its talc-based baby powder, and the company already spent around $7.4 billion in litigation fees between 2020 and 2021 alone—with the talc controversy as the biggest money pit among other legal woes.
Leigh O’Dell, a lead attorney representing some of the plaintiffs in the talc lawsuits, has accused J&J of “abuse of the bankruptcy system” and “seeking an extremely deep discount on justice.” The company, meanwhile, has announced its plans to bring the case to the Supreme Court.