Johnson & Johnson to pay $8.9 billion settlement over alleged cancer-causing talc products

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Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to pay $8.9 billion over the next 25 years to settle claims that its talc-based products, including baby powder, caused cancer. The settlement follows more than 60,000 allegations that the products were contaminated with the carcinogen asbestos. J&J has denied the allegations, but has already stopped global sales of its talc-based baby powder this year. J&J subsidiary LTL Management also refiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after its first attempt was overturned by a U.S. Court of Appeals in January. The proposed settlement requires approval in bankruptcy court.

The settlement is the latest attempt by J&J to limit the losses incurred from talc-related lawsuits and litigation expenses. The company funneled its talc lawsuits to subsidiary LTL Management and immediately filed for bankruptcy protection after spinning off the subsidiary in October 2021. A judge affirmed the company’s ability to use the Chapter 11 strategy in February 2022, but it was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals in January. One of the lead attorneys representing plaintiffs in the talc lawsuits criticized J&J’s proposed settlement, calling it a “shameful attempt to run out the clock on people dying of cancer.” J&J said last month that it would take the case to the Supreme Court.

While J&J has maintained that the talc allegations lack scientific merit, the settlement is a significant move towards resolving a major legal challenge for the company. The settlement could help compensate claimants in a timely manner, while enabling J&J to remain focused on its commitment to positively impact health for humanity, said Erik Haas, J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation. However, the proposed settlement still needs to gain approval in bankruptcy court.

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