Americans are more than familiar with Johnson & Johnson–a massive medical technology and pharmaceutical company that has become part of nearly every household in this country. Whether or not they’re in your medicine cabinet, J&J products like Tylenol, Neosporin, and BAND-AID are all known as reputable products that keep us in good health and safe from harm.
Given the company’s pervasive presence in our lives, our talc cancer attorneys in Northern New Jersey and New York find it especially troubling to follow ongoing allegations linking tens of thousands of cancer cases to Johnson’s baby powder. As we continue to fight for victims’ rights in court, new developments continue to emerge. I’ll tell you more below, and discuss what to do if you think a talc product such as baby powder caused your serious health issues.
History of Johnson & Johnson Talc-Cancer Cases
In recent years, tens of thousands of victims have come forward, filing lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that their talc-based baby powder was contaminated with asbestos which caused fatal diseases including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Research has shown that the claims are, in fact, reasonable: their baby powder product does contain asbestos.
To make matters worse, the company has refused to address dangers and employed unseemly legal maneuvers to avoid paying compensation to deserving victims of their dangerous products. Our Northern New Jersey product liability attorneys here at Buttafuoco & Associates have been following these cases as they unfold and fighting for the rights of victims.
Luckily, in 2020, Johnson & Johnson managed to remove the product from stores and ceased selling their baby powder in the United States and Canada, and this past August, they ended sales globally. But for years prior to pulling the product from shelves, the company continued to submit claims that these decisions were based on declining demand for the products. They also insisted that questions about potential safety issues were simply fueled by misinformation from the ongoing litigation.
Based on the number of accusations alone, it is unlikely that the connection between Johnson & Johnson baby powder and serious disease is a mere coincidence. Many people have won millions in lawsuits against the company, and we don’t see that stopping any time soon.
How Johnson & Johnson Dodged Thousands of Lawsuits
You’ve likely heard the term “corporate restructuring.” The particular type of restructuring Johnson & Johnson’s used to avoid paying cancer victims what they are owed is known as the “Texas Two-Step.” Here’s how it works: a company forms a spin-off corporation that’s legally separate from the original company; this happens in Texas, thanks to some specific corporate laws in the state. The Texas-based company then files for bankruptcy, moving any liabilities and lawsuits from civil court into bankruptcy court, shielding the original corporation from further legal action.
In the case of J&J, their spin-off called LTL Management LLC took on all the liabilities for talc powder, which quickly filed bankruptcy while shielding J&J’s profits. This legal process is clearly highly questionable, and lawyers are seeking ways to prevent companies from abusing their powers as J&J has.
Latest Challenges to the J&J’s “Texas Two-Step”
As of late September 2022, the case has gone before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Plaintiffs are arguing that the restructuring was in bad faith, an attempt to avoid liability and stopped 40,000 lawsuits dead in their tracks. J&J’s legal team has argued that this restructuring was intended to help victims reach settlements faster, but this argument is clearly suspect. Innocent men and women are unable to pay medical bills for treatment they need to treat their disease. This is clearly unacceptable.
Also, the U.S. Department of Justice has joined the fray with a case that may have far-reaching implications beyond J&J talc cancer lawsuits. The DOJ is arguing that if J&J’s Texas Two-Step stands, this will establish a legal precedent advantaging corporations and the wealthy, shielding them from responsibility for their actions. If this challenge is successful, it will be a striking victory for consumer protection. While the court has not yet ruled on whether the restructuring will be legally allowed, we should hear something soon as corporate bankruptcy cases tend to move forward quickly.
Your Health is Our Top Priority
Our product liability team at Buttafuoco & Associates is following these developments closely. If you think you have a case, a talc cancer lawyer serving Northern New Jersey can provide a free consultation.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT today.