J&J to settle over 1000 lawsuits with more than US$100 million
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to resolve over 1,000 lawsuits against the company’s signature baby talcum powder accused of causing cancer. The company agreed to pay more than US$100 million in order to settle four years of litigation in this first set of major settlements.
The accords, with many law firms, hints that the world’s largest health care products producer is attempting to get ahead of the burgeoning litigation. according to securities filings, around 20000 lawsuits are still pending. This is the first time a bulk of plaintiffs’ lawyers’ cases has been settled on the eve of the trial or during the trial by Johnson & Johnson.
After J&J last faced a jury that reviewed the evidence on the cancer risk of the signature talcum product of the company seven months back, the deals came forth. Their signature talc is replaced in the U.S. and Canada with a cornstarch version. According to unidentified claimers, the company used the lull during this present pandemic and held settlement talks.
The trials over the claims of the workers of the factory of mesothelioma by the talc are scheduled for this month in California with the end of hiatus this year.
Kim Montagnino, a J&J spokeswoman said that in certain instances, the company does opt for a lawsuits’ settlement, and that is done without an admission of liability but these settlements in no way change the position of the company regarding the safety of their products. Montagnino further said that ‘scientific evidence’ supports the position of the company and mentions that the talc by J&J is safe and contains no asbestos and does not cause cancer.
According to the people, the settlements include lawsuits by Simon Greenstone Panatier PC, Simmons Hanly Conroy, and the Lanier Law Firm.
Mark Lanier is a known mass-tort practitioner. In a verdict against J&J in 2018, he won a US$4.7 billion verdict, on appeal which was cut to cut to US$2.1 billion. Lanier claimed that officials of J&J had information about the asbestos found in internal tests, yet for more than 40 years, the company failed to disclose it. The giant verdict appealed by the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company is not addressed by the Lanier settlement, but it resolves the remaining ovarian cancer and mesothelioma by almost all the law firms.
More than 75 mesothelioma cases by Simmons Hanly were settled by J&J, including that of Simon Greenstone who filed a similar number of cases.
Simmons Hanly’s partner Larry Nassif, Simon Greenstone’s partner Jeffrey Simon, and Rick Meadow, who leads Lanier’s mass-tort practice, refused to make any comment on it.
The estimated cost of all the outstanding cases on J&J was approximated to be around US$10 billion by Bloomberg Intelligence
‘Loath to Settle’
Carl Tobias, professor, University of Richmond law remarked that the company aims to get on top of litigation. J&J is generally reluctant to settle lawsuits but the present push for it is a part of a strategy rather than desperation says the professor.
A deadline for future talc suits is created with the decision to swap out the talc in North American markets with a cornstarch product, and this keeps up with the strategy and also helps quantify the exposure of the company, said Tobias.
In a securities filing in July, J&J said that the company had established an accrual cost mainly for defense and reserves for probable settlement of pending cases of mesothelioma, without mentioning the amount that has been set aside.
Rosalino Reyes III in the California trial this month in Oakland state court says that he was diagnosed with asbestos-linked cancer in 2019 after using J&J’s baby powder for more than 50 years. The lawyer says that opening arguments are scheduled to start on October 13th by videoconference.
J&J to settles over 1000 lawsuits with more than US$100 million
Author : Mayuree Hazarika