J&J knew For Decades That Asbestos Lurked in Its Baby Powder

J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder

Johnson&Johnson claims that their baby powder is safe. Yet three different tests were conducted by 3 different labs. These tests were conducted between 1972-1975. Each test did find traces of asbestos in the talc. This proves that Johnson&Johnson did know about the contamination. This is the basis of the Johnson&Johnson talc powder lawsuit.

Small amounts of asbestos were found in the company’s raw talc and finished powders. This was between 1971 to the early 2000s. Documents obtained by Reuters showed that Johnson&Johnson influenced U.S regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products. Some of these documents appeared during the trial.

Earliest Traces of Asbestos in Johnson&Johnson Talc Baby Powder

Traces of asbestos was found in their baby powder earlier than 1971. A lab reported that Johnson&Johnson’s baby powder was tainted in 1957 and 1958. Then traces were found at different times throughout the years. These traces were found by the company’s own scientists and outside labs.

The FDA in 1976 wanted to weigh the limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products. Johnson&Johnson assured that there were no traces of asbestos in their baby powder. They didn’t mention the lab results that did find traces. The company failed to mention that only a fraction of their talc is tested.

There is no safe exposure to asbestos according to the World Health Organization. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop cancer. Some do end up getting it later on after they were exposed. One lab found traces of asbestos in Johnson&Johnson’s Shower to Shower product.

Where does Talc in Baby Powder Come From

Talc in baby powder sold in the U.S comes from China since 2003. The supplier is Imerys and is a co-defendant in the talc litigation. Imerys claims that the talc-based powder is safe. The company states that the talc has been tested. According to them, the powder shows no asbestos.

Over the years Johnson&Johnson looked for different sources of talc that contained no asbestos. In the late 50s, the company found out that their source of talc at the time did contain asbestos. Their source at the time came from Italy. Then in the 60s, their talc source came from Vermont.

But even that source became contaminated. In the 70s the company used 20,000 tons of talc from Vermont per year. Johnson&Johnson tried to convince the FDA that talc-based powder with 1% asbestos was tolerable. They started omitting tests that did find contamination in their powder.

Johnson&Johnson to Pay $4.7 Billion in Damages in Talc Baby Powder Case

In 2018 Johnson&Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages. Twenty-two women claim that the baby powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. A Missouri jury originally awarded the women $550 million in damages. The jury added $4.1 billion in punitive damages.

Six of the twenty-two women have died from ovarian cancer. The mass tort lawsuit lawyers representing the women claim that the company knew about asbestos in the powder since the 70s. The company denies this.

The FDA did a study of different talc samples. One of the samples was from Johnson&Johnson. The study found no traces of asbestos. However, the prosecutor claims that the testing methods of this study were flawed.

Johnson & Johnson Stops Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder In U.S. And Canada

In 2020 Johnson&Johnson stopped selling talc-based baby powder. But it was only in the U.S and Canada. The talc-based baby powder continued to be sold in other countries. Johnson&Johnson stated that the demand was higher around the world.

They did not contribute to the decline in sales to the lawsuits. Johnson&Johnson says the decline in sales is due to a change in consumer habits. They say that there’s misinformation being spread about the product. Johnson&Johnson would not admit that the talc-based powder contributed to health problems.

In 2018 Johnson&Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women. The women claim the talc-based powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. A woman from California was awarded $29 million. Over 16,000 talc-related lawsuits were filed. A lawsuit was also filed against the company for its painkillers.

Johnson and Johnson Face Push to Ban Global Baby Powder Sales

Johnson&Johnson’s talc-based powder products are no longer sold in the U.S and Canada. However, that was not the case worldwide. The company faces a shareholder vote to stop the global sales of talc-based baby powder. A London-based investment platform proposed the halt.

The proposal was submitted to the U.S Securities and Exchange Committee. Lawyers for J&J wrote to the SEC asking that the shareholder proposal be ineligible. The company claimed that it would affect pending talc baby powder lawsuits.

Supreme Court rejects Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of $2 billion penalties in baby powder cancer case

In 2021 the supreme court rejected Johnson&Johnson’s appeal. The company wanted to undo the $2.1 billion damages award. The Missouri supreme court upheld the lawsuit in 2020. However, a state appeals court reduced the amount from $4 billion.

Kenn Starr is the lawyer representing the women with ovarian cancer who sued the company. Kenn Starr argued that the company could have used cornstarch instead of talc. They didn’t because they didn’t want to sacrifice profits. Kenn Starr asked the court to not review the case.

Johnson&Johnson presented a different argument. They stated that comprehensive studies have been done. These studies found no link between using talc cosmetically and ovarian cancer. Johnson&Johnson claims that the talc-based powder is safe to use.

J&J is using a bankruptcy maneuver to block lawsuits over baby powder cancer claims

In October of 2021, Johnson&Johnson used a controversial bankruptcy maneuver to block lawsuits filed against them. They created a new company called LTL. After that, they dumped all the lawsuits filed against them into the new company. They used a Texas state law to pull this off.

Then their company LTL filed for bankruptcy in a Charlotte, North Carolina federal court. Now Johnson&Johnson claims they don’t have liability anymore. This means that the company LTL is responsible now. Consumers can’t hold Johnson&Johnson responsible.

Johnson&Johnson claim this move was legitimate. Bankruptcy courts will handle this case from now on. Critics claim that this is a growing trend among companies and wealthy individuals. They file bankruptcy to block lawsuits.

Judge Temporarily Halts Lawsuits Against Johnson&Johnson

In November of 2021, a federal bankruptcy judge in North Carolina temporarily halted the Johnson&Johnson lawsuits. The lawsuit was delayed for only 60 days. The judge did state that the case should be heard in New Jersey.Johnson&Johnson’s headquarters are in New Jersey.

The company wanted the case reviewed first. That’s why they wanted the lawsuits to be frozen. But this case review process could take years. The senate judiciary committee urged the company to drop this bankruptcy maneuver.

The judge presiding over the case sent it to New Jersey. The 60-day delay allows the new judge in New Jersey to catch up on the case.

Johnson&Johnson Baby Powder Lawsuits on Hold For Now

Individual states in the United States are also part of the lawsuit against Johnson&Johnson. In December 2021 the company argued that the lawsuit filed by Mississippi should be dismissed. The supreme court rejected this argument. Not putting a warning label on the baby powder is against state law.

February is when a federal bankruptcy court will make a decision about Johnson&Johnson’s bankruptcy maneuver. The decision will come at the end of the month. There are currently 38,000 baby powder lawsuits filed against the company.

Johnson&Johnson’s Secret Plan to Cap Litigation Payouts to Cancer Victims

The controversial bankruptcy maneuver Johson&Johnson did was planned ahead of time. They planned this last year in 2021. They called it Project Plato. Johnson&Johnson assigned 30 staffers to this project. Reuters got their hands on a memo from the company last year about this project.

A lawyer from the company warned Johnson&Johnson staff not to tell anyone. Not even their spouses. It was a covert operation to shift the 38,000 pending talc cases to the newly formed LTL company. Their goal was to have plaintiffs compete for compensation from a limited supply of money.

While Johnson&Johnson was fighting this litigation in the courts, behind closed doors they were plotting. They were planning this maneuver since April of 2021. The company never wanted these talc cases to reach a jury. Their goal was for this to play out in bankruptcy court.

Johnson&Johnson’s Bankruptcy Strategy

Johnson&Johnson put their plan into action starting in October of 2021. Documents obtained by Reuters go into detail about their bankruptcy strategy. Before filing for bankruptcy the company was facing $3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements. Now their plan is to give their new company LTL $2 billion for the settlements.

Johnson&Johnson defends this bankruptcy maneuver as legitimate. They still stand by their talc-based baby powder. They still claim it’s safe to use and has no asbestos. A lawyer for the LTL company appeared in bankruptcy court. The lawyer criticized the plaintiff’s attorneys for handing over the documents to Reuters.

Lawyers for Johnson&Johnson even tried to get a restraining order. They wanted a restraining order so that Reuters couldn’t publish the documents to the public. Reuters broke the news in July of 2021. Then later on a lawyer for the company called this news unsubstantiated rumours.

Is Johnson&Johnson Free From Liability

Johnson&Johnson isn’t the first company to pull a maneuver like this. The bankruptcy maneuver pulled by J&J is just one tactic companies can use to limit liability.  Usually, companies will file bankruptcy under their own name. J&J took it a step further. They created a company for the sole purpose of filing bankruptcy.

The company Purdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy. They did this at a time when lawsuits were being filed against them. People allege that the company contributed to the opioid crisis. However, a New York U.S district judge invalidated it. The bankruptcy system wasn’t meant to protect wealthy companies from wrongdoing.

The goal of filing bankruptcy is to help struggling companies restructure.  The U.S Congress wants to do something about it. A U.S senator from Illinois is co-sponsoring legislation that would ban the tactic J&J pulled. It would restrict to where they have to file bankruptcy themselves. Not under another company.

Johnson&Johnson Wasn’t the Only Company to Face Talc Powder Lawsuits

Target, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreen all faced talc powder lawsuits. Manufacturers and distributors were named in lawsuits. One lawsuit happened in May 2021. A talc supplier lost a lawsuit against a school bus driver. The retired bus driver used Old Spice powder. Then, later on, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

In that case, the jury awarded the plaintiff $4.8 million. The asbestos-contaminated powder was the cause of cancer in the case. That powder was used in the Old Spice product. It wasn’t just baby powder that contained talc. Gold Bond Body Powder and Gold Bond Extra Strength Body Powder were contaminated.

Colgate-Palmolive was named in lawsuits too. It was for their brand Cashmere Bouquet. Some of the suppliers named in lawsuits are Vanderbilt Minerals, and Whittaker, Clark & Daniels.

Talk to a Lawyer

When it comes to the Johnson&Johnson talc powder lawsuits women who used the powder daily and developed cancer from it are eligible to file a claim. If you used talc-based powder and developed mesothelioma you might be eligible for a claim too.

The statute of limitations on cases like this varies from state to state. It can be anywhere from 2 to 10 years. If you developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based powder talk to a Johnson & Johnson lawsuit lawyer about your claim. Fill out this form to contact a lawyer.