A United States Judge declined the request to stop Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from splitting talc liabilities in lawsuits from its other businesses. The ruling of the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein came late Thursday, August 26th. It was brought by the plaintiffs in a tort lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson.
Judge Silverstein declined to stop the company from taking steps to offload the liabilities incurred from the lawsuits against them for their baby powder. Consequently, the ruling preserves the option for the healthcare giant to move the claims against its talc powder to a business unit that would later file for bankruptcy.
Moving the claims is a legitimate business transaction that the company can choose to do. However, Johnson & Johnson has not decided on whether to follow this particular course of action. According to Reuters, their focus remains on defending the safety of talc.
Judge Silverstein currently sits on a bankruptcy case involving Imerys Talc America (ITA). The company once supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson. ITA filed for Chapter 11 court protection amid mounting litigation and is currently battling J&J over whether the healthcare company should cover their former supplier’s legal costs under indemnification agreements. The judge said it would be wrong to legally bar Johnson & Johnson from undertaking a hypothetical future restructuring that might separate talc liabilities.
J&J has been facing thousands of lawsuits for ovarian cancer caused by the prolonged usage of their talc powder. The plaintiffs argue that the asbestos found in talc causes cancer, and therefore the company should compensate them. The lawsuits are still ongoing in several courts in the U.S. Contact our mass tort lawyers at Dalimonte Rueb Stoller to learn more about these cases and those who qualify to file one.