U.S. multinational Johnson & Johnson has proposed to pay $8.9 billion to resolve thousands of cases filed against it in North America which claim that its baby powder and talc products cause cancer.
The settlement amount is way more than the $2 billion proposed by the healthcare giant earlier.
Johnson & Johnson says its subsidiary LTL Management LLC (LTL) has re-filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to obtain approval of a reorganisation plan that will "equitably and efficiently resolve" all claims arising from cosmetic talc litigation against the company and its affiliates in North America.
"To that end, the company has agreed to contribute up to a present value of $8.9 billion, payable over 25 years, to resolve all the current and future talc claims, which is an increase of $6.9 billion over the $2 billion previously committed in connection with LTL's initial bankruptcy filing in October 2021," it says in a regulatory filing.
LTL also has secured commitments from over 60,000 current claimants to support a global resolution on these terms, the filing says.
Johnson & Johnson, however, maintained that these claims "lack scientific merit".
"Neither LTL's original filing nor this re-filing is an admission of wrongdoing, nor an indication that the company has changed its longstanding position that its talcum powder products are safe. Johnson & Johnson and its other affiliates did not file for bankruptcy protection and will continue to operate their businesses as usual," the healthcare major says.
The company continues to believe that these claims are "specious", says Erik Haas, worldwide vice-president of Litigation, Johnson & Johnson.
"However, as the Bankruptcy Court recognized, resolving these cases in the tort system would take decades and impose significant costs on LTL and the system, with most claimants never receiving any compensation. Resolving this matter through the proposed reorganization plan is both more equitable and more efficient, allows claimants to be compensated in a timely manner, and enables the company to remain focused on our commitment to profoundly and positively impact health for humanity," says Haas.
Johnson & Johnson says it has won the vast majority of cosmetic talc-related jury trials that have been litigated to date and reiterates that none of the talc-related claims against the company have merit. "The claims are premised on the allegation that cosmetic talc causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a position that has been rejected by independent experts, as well," it says.
"Notwithstanding the lack of scientific validity to these claims, plaintiff trial lawyers continue to relentlessly advertise for talc claims, supported by millions of dollars of litigation financing, all in the hopes of a massive return on investment. LTL's goal has always been to resolve these claims quickly, efficiently and fairly for the claimants, both pending and future, and not incentivize abuse of the legal system. We filed the original action in good faith, and, heeding the Third Circuit's guidance, have filed this new case to effectuate that intent," says John Kim, chief legal officer of LTL.