U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Craig Whitley in Charlotte, North Carolina ordered that tens of thousands of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson be moved to New Jersey, according to a November 10, 2021 report from Reuters. Judge Whitley explained that his decision hinged on two factors: the fact that Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey and the fact that a substantial amount of the country’s talc litigation is happening there.
John Kim, chief legal officer of LTL Management LLC, shared his belief that North Carolina was the proper venue for Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy proceedings, but that he plans to continue striving for a speedy and fair outcome for all involved parties.
Who Is LTL, and Why Should We Care?
If you have not heard of LTL Management LLC, you are not alone. This is the new company that J&J birthed as a vessel for all its talc liabilities—virtually moments before placing the organization into bankruptcy. This way, J&J stays clean and fresh as a baby’s bottom, while LTL rolls around in the multitude of muddy talc claims.
LTL’s “birth announcement” came as an unhappy surprise for thousands of people who trusted the company to make safe products, only to find that the Johnson’s Baby Powder they used for decades allegedly caused them to develop ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. These individuals, many of whom are now members of lawsuits against the company, found it grossly unfair that J&J was able to hide its new baby company behind the apron strings of bankruptcy protection, despite the parent’s company astounding financial health.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers have denounced J&J’s tactics as an unfortunate manipulation of the bankruptcy system.
Johnson & Johnson’s Talc Lawsuits
To date, J&J’s expenses on defending close to 40,000 talc lawsuits total almost $1 billion. So far, settlements and verdicts have stripped the corporate giant of $3.5 billion.
One case involving 22 women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson’s Baby Powder resulted in a $4.69 billion judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The defendant appealed the decision, only to have the Missouri Court of Appeals uphold the original ruling—although they reduced the award to $2.212 billion.
Much of the legal action surrounding J&J’s talc products stemmed from the company’s 2019 admission that it had detected asbestos in a bottle of its baby powder. J&J recalled 33,000 bottles of the product, and pharmacies began pulling the baby powder from their shelves, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
In May 2020, the company announced it was discontinuing its talc-based baby powder sales in Canada and the U.S.
According to a Reuters report published in 2018, J&J internal documents show the company knew that asbestos contamination could result from talc mining. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.