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A subsidiary of personal care products company Johnson & Johnson has filed for bankruptcy and has unveiled a settlement plan to pay the customers who’ve sued them over their baby powder.
Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, all claiming that the company’s talcum powder caused people to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Some reports suggest that lawsuits related to talc claims against Johnson & Johnson began as early as the 1990s. It’s unclear exactly how many talc-related lawsuits have been filed against the company.
By filing for bankruptcy on April 4, 2023, J&J subsidiary LTL can pause all of these individual, unconnected lawsuits and come up with a plan to resolve all of the claims in a faster, more efficient and organized way.
Here’s what you need to know:
Johnson & Johnson is planning to pay customers $8.9 billion over 25 years.
This isn’t exactly a class-action settlement, but it’s close. Instead of litigating the hundreds and hundreds of talc-related lawsuits over a period of years and years, Johnson & Johnson is trying to address all of the lawsuits at once — arriving at a payout of $8.9 billion to be paid over the next 25 years.
A bankruptcy court still needs to approve this plan before it’s put into action, but so far, more than 60,000 people who have filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson approve of the plan.
J&J originally proposed a $2 billion payout in October 2021, so this represents a much larger financial commitment.
The controversial baby powder is no longer being sold.
Johnson & Johnson makes a type of powder called talcum powder that’s used for things like baby powder. Although the company still says the product is safe, Johnson & Johnson stopped selling talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada in 2020. They now sell a different type of powder made from cornstarch instead.
There’s still a lot of research being done to figure out if the powder really causes cancer or not, but Johnson & Johnson has removed the product to avoid additional legal troubles. There was never an official product recall on the powder.
It’s unclear if there will be a larger class-action lawsuit for the public to join.
It’s not clear if there’s going to be a larger class-action lawsuit, where consumers will be able to file new claims and get settlement money. The plan that Johnson & Johnson made is not only for people who have already sued the company, but for those who will sue in the future, too.
So by that logic, we could see a more coordinated class-action lawsuit emerge in the coming years. Until then customers who believe they’ve been negatively affected by the baby powder have to reach out to personal injury attorneys, file their own lawsuits, and seek their own settlement.
We’ll keep this space updated as more information emerges.