Who will share in Johnson & Johnson’s proposed $8.9 billion talc settlement?

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Women who developed cancer and their families would likely receive compensation

After years of consumer lawsuits claiming Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused cancer, the pharmaceutical giant has proposed spending $8.9 billion to settle all of the cases, which number close to 40,000.

The company continues to deny that talc in the product caused cancer but said it is willing to spend the money to put the issue behind it. In a statement, the company said the claims "are specious and lack scientific merit."

But who exactly would get a share of the money? Personal injury lawyers representing plaintiffs in one of the cases say women who used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer – along with their families – would likely be eligible for “significant” compensation.

The firm, Pintus & Mullins, says the talc that was present in the powder also contained asbestos, a known carcinogen. 

“Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has a long history with Asbestos,” the firm says on its website. “The earliest reports of asbestos in J&J talc products date back to 1957-1958. Many victims have been exposed to asbestos through J&J baby powder.”

Johnson & Johnson denies any link to cancer-causing ingredients in its product. Even so, the company removed talc from its baby powder in 2020.

The court must approve

Before anyone receives compensation the settlement must be approved by the court. Legal analysts say approval is likely since a large number of the plaintiffs and their lawyers have backed the proposal.

Johnson & Johnson created a subsidiary corporation, LTL Management, to pay the claims. The subsidiary has already declared bankruptcy.

Mikal Watts of the law firm Watts Guerra and TalcPowderJustice.com said the $8.9 billion settlement would be the largest products liability settlement ever realized after a bankruptcy filing. 

Even if the bankruptcy court approves the settlement plaintiffs might not see any money for years. Lawyers involved in the case said they expect the money to be paid out over a 25-year period.

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