Johnson & Johnson Files to Consolidate Asbestos Talc Cases Against Imerys in Federal Court

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.

Recently, an Oakland, California jury awarded $29 million on behalf of a plaintiff who claimed to have developed mesothelioma from decades of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Johnson & Johnson faces dozens more trials, many of which are also in California, over similar claims that plaintiffs developed cancer and other serious health conditions as a result of asbestos fibers in talcum powder products made by the company.

While talc does not contain asbestos itself, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can be found side by side one another. If talc suppliers do not take steps to separate the two, the talc may become contaminated with deadly asbestos fibers. According to a report by Reuters in late 2018, executives with Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about its Imerys supplied talc testing positive for asbestos fibers but did nothing to warn consumers about the health risks.

Asbestos exposure is directly linked to developing mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which commonly affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding the lungs but can often form tumors around the abdominal cavity, heart, or other vital organs. Although there is no definitive cure for mesothelioma at this time, researchers around the globe continue to make progress in fighting the disease.

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