Johnson & Johnson sets aside billions for talcum powder cancer verdict and potential settlements

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently revealed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company has set aside just under $4 billion in “talc related reserves” to cover billions in settlements related to lawsuits claiming that the company’s talcum powder products are carcinogenic. Further, the company stated that the monies set aside were for “litigation expenses,” which could indicate that the funds could be used to pay for future settlements to resolve hundreds or even potentially thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country.

According to Johnson & Johnson’s filing with federal regulators in Washington, D.C., the company faces an estimated 25,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country, most of which are related to the sale of its iconic Baby Powder. Many of those lawsuits claim that the victims developed mesothelioma and other serious forms of cancer from exposure to asbestos fibers contained in the product, which the company knew about but did not provide warning to consumers about the risks.

Of the $3.9 billion set aside by Johnson & Johnson, $2.1 billion is allocated to pay for a talcum powder cancer lawsuit verdict recently upheld by the Missouri state supreme court, which although reduced the jury’s initial award of $4.69 billion, allowed billions to stand. In that case, 22 plaintiffs claimed that they developed mesothelioma cancer from years of using asbestos-contaminated Baby Powder made by Johnson & Johnson. Attorneys for the plaintiffs produced internal Johnson & Johnson documents which showed that the company knew as far back as the 1970s that the talc sourced for its products could be laden with carcinogenic asbestos.

While talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals that can be found side by side one another, which means that companies sourcing and processing talc must take care to ensure that their materials are not contaminated with the carcinogen. Asbestos exposure is directly linked to developing mesothelioma , a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs and heart, as well as the abdominal cavity, before spreading throughout the body.

The remaining $1.8 billion set aside by Johnson & Johnson could be used to fund future settlements in 2021, something that the company has done sparsely and instead chosen to fully litigate cases and exhaust the appeals process before finally compensating victims when compelled by the courts. Only time will tell if Johnson & Johnson will choose to compensate victims or otherwise continue its stance of denying, delaying, and defending claims.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life

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