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Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently filed paperwork to have a Delaware federal judge consolidate thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits against one-time co-defendant Imerys Talc USA. If the judge were to grant the request, thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson would be removed from state courts across the country where plaintiffs have accused Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc USA of knowingly producing and marketing a carcinogenic product without any warning to consumers.

Imerys Talc USA, Johnson & Johnson’s long-time talc supplier, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits in which it was named co-defendant with Johnson & Johnson. While Johnson & Johnson has not filed for the same protections itself, the company seeks consolidation of Imerys cases through a special bankruptcy law provision which allows creditors with significant financial ties to the talc miner to make the request to promote “expeditious resolution of claims.”

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 13,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country, with over 10,000 consolidated in before a federal judge in New Jersey for pre-trial information exchanges. Were the pharmaceutical company to prevail in its motion before the Delaware judge, Johnson & Johnson would have effectively removed almost all of its claims from state courts where juries have handed down substantial plaintiffs verdicts.

In the closing days of Maryland’s legislative session, lawmakers are seriously considering a proposal that would move tens of thousands of pending asbestos cancer lawsuits from state courts and put them into arbitration to clear the backlog. The move is supported by one of the more well-known asbestos cancer lawyers in the state, who has an estimated two-thirds of all such cases currently in litigation in one single court, as well as the Maryland state senate.

According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, the bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, a Montgomery County Democrat sailed through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on a 10-1 vote two days after its hearing. That same bills then passed the full Maryland state senate by a unanimous vote of 44-0 and will need to pass the state house of representatives before the year’s session expires in just a few days.

There are 30,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits pending in just Baltimore County Circuit Court alone, many of them brought by victims and family members of people who once worked in Sparrows Point steel mill, Baltimore’s shipyards, and other construction and manufacturing businesses. Under the proposal, plaintiffs with asbestos-related cancer would be able to have a new office mediate their cases first and still have the option to go to trial if neither side is satisfied.

Just weeks after a California jury handed down a substantial $29 million plaintiff’s verdict, Johnson & Johnson has settled three other talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits with victims and families. Those and other lawsuits against the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant claim that plaintiffs developed serious health conditions, including mesothelioma and other cancers, due to years of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

The most recent case was settled in Oklahoma, just hours after an Oklahoma City-jury began its deliberations into whether or not Johnson & Johnson’s Baby powder was a contributing factor in a 77-year-old victim’s development of peritoneal mesothelioma. On the same day, Johnson & Johnson settled another talcum powder cancer lawsuit in the middle of a trial brought by a 36-year-old who claimed she too developed mesothelioma from years of using talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company.

The third settlement involved a New York asbestos cancer lawsuit slated to begin this month. The settlements are a rare occurrence in the history of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder lawsuit litigation as the company has typically chosen to litigate these types of cases until the end, rather than negotiate with plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 13,000 additional asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country accusing the company of causing various types of cancer.

After a year that saw juries hand down a number of substantial plaintiffs verdicts in asbestos cancer lawsuits, pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson and its supplier Imerys Talc USA are slated to see their highest number of such cases over the next 12 months. Imerys has already collapsed and filed for bankruptcy protection under the mounting legal and financial trouble.  After a St. Louis jury handed down a $4.69 billion verdict to 22 female plaintiffs in 2019, this year could pose even more legal and financial trouble for the companies, with the group scheduled to defendant their actions in front of three times as many juries than the previous year.

Four trials scheduled in 2019 will take place in the same Missouri state court where jurors handed down their multi-billion dollar verdict and several more will take place in venues considered to be friendly to plaintiffs. One trial in August has 38 plaintiffs, setting the stage for potentially an even larger verdict than before. Since cases began going to trial in 2016, juries in California, New Jersey, and Missouri have handed down more than $5 billion in compensation to asbestos exposure victims.

An estimated 12,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits remain outstanding and some legal experts believe it could cost Johnson & Johnson as much as $20 billion to settle all the claims and avoid any further trials. A recent Reuters report detailed allegations that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, but did nothing to warn consumers about the risks, even going as far as to provide misleading information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s.

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