J&J Must Pay: Company To Settle Talc Powder Cancer Allegations For $8.9B

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.”

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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.