The defendants in one of the largest mass tort product liability cases ever have offered nearly $9 billion to settle present and future claims that their talcum baby powder caused cancer. The sum is four times the amount that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had previously offered to settle plaintiffs’ claims.
The company faces more than 60,000 different civil and class-action lawsuits over the allegations. Here’s what else you should know:
No admission of wrongdoing is forthcoming
Critically, the corporation’s offer to settle does not include an admission of wrongdoing. They still maintain that their talcum powder was safe, did not contain asbestos and did not cause cancer in its customers.
Bankruptcy re-filing is related to the settlement
J&J subsidiary LTL Management re-filed its petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The re-filing reflects the latest settlement offer and awaits the court’s approval.
According to J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation, defending the talcum powder lawsuits could take multiple decades, which resulted in “most claimants never receiving any compensation.”
The key takeaways from the litigation
Class action lawsuits arise out of mass tort actions by defendants that harm people on a large scale. While some can seem rather silly, class action lawsuits like this one against Johnson & Johnson hold companies accountable for the safety of the ingredients used in the manufacture of their products.
In this case, lives may be saved, as the company no longer uses talc in its baby powder. Instead, they have switched to cornstarch for their entire product line.
When is a class action lawsuit the appropriate route to justice?
If there were many people in multiple jurisdictions affected by the mass tort action, the attorneys may choose to seek class action status for the case. Courts typically approve the status request for this type of litigation.