A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee is asking that Johnson & Johnson turn over information about its plans to offload liability over its talcum powder products that have been linked to cancer under bankruptcy protection.
According to a report in Law360, the House panel on Economic and Consumer Policy has sought documents from J&J, which faces thousands of product liability lawsuits alleging that its talcum powder products cause cancer, about any bankruptcy plans and how those plans might affect plaintiffs’ lawsuits.
The letter to J&J was written by the chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois. The subcommittee, which is under the House Oversight and Reform Committee, also wants to know about any plans to create a dedicated subsidiary for talc liabilities and how much it would be funded, per the letter.
Talcum Powder and Cancer
The panel states that the committee has heard from people diagnosed with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer through its investigation into the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in J&J’s talc and baby powder. The subcommittee also noted that it has heard from families who have lost loved ones to talc-induced mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
There have been media reports that J&J is looking into offloading its talc liabilities to a subsidiary and then have it file for bankruptcy. This slimy strategy is known as the “Texas two-step,” and has been used by corporations facing mass tort liability using the divisive merger laws available in Texas. Tens of thousands of plaintiffs, a majority of them women, have filed injury claims against J&J and its longtime supplier Imerys Talc America.
Justice for Victims and Families
Many women have said that using talcum powder for feminine hygiene over decades has caused them to develop cancer. Internal memos from J&J have shown that the company knew for a long time that its talc products were dangerous and had the potential to cause cancer, but never warned consumers. The largest judgment against J&J was a $4.69 billion verdict in Missouri, which was reduced on appeal to about $2.1 billion.
As plaintiffs’ attorneys who are representing the rights of victims injured by these defective products and families who are grieving the loss of loved ones who died from using these products, we are absolutely disgusted that J&J would even consider this strategy. We join others in recommending that such practices be prohibited under the law. Plaintiffs deserve their day in court. We will fight hard to make sure these injured victims and their families receive justice and fair compensation for their losses.