During a court hearing in July 2022, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan said that he might appoint an independent expert to evaluate the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson that allege the company’s baby powder is responsible for cancer and serious lung problems.
Following a tidal wave of lawsuits in 2020 concerning Johnson & Johnson’s talc-containing baby powder, many claiming that use of the powder was implicated in the development of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, Johnson & Johnson created a subsidiary, LTL Management LLC, to house its talc liabilities. In October 2021, the subsidiary went into bankruptcy to postpone dealing with the thousands of baby powder lawsuits that had accumulated. While one of the lawsuits filed against the company was recently overturned on appeal, the remainder of the claims have yet to be settled.
Johnson & Johnson has offered a one-year plan to review the talc lawsuits, while claimants have asked that some lawsuits continue apart from the bankruptcy hearings. The bankruptcy judge noted that mediation efforts had so far failed and that an outside opinion might help overcome the impasse.
What Is the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Controversy All About?
In 2020, after asbestos fibers were found in Johnson & Johnson baby powder, the company faced more than 34,000 lawsuits by consumers who claimed to have been adversely affected by the asbestos. As a result, Johnson & Johnson stopped selling the controversial product in the United States and Canada, but the baby powder was still available in other countries.
After much debate, stockholders voted at the company’s annual meeting in April 2022 to continue worldwide sale of the company’s talc-containing baby powder. However, in August 2022, the company reversed that decision and announced it would stop sales of talc-containing powder by 2023.
Johnson & Johnson has maintained that all of its products are safe. A spokesperson stated: “We stand behind the ingredients we use in our products, and Johnson & Johnson has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure our cosmetic talc is safe. Not only is our talc routinely tested to ensure it does not contain asbestos, but our talc has also been tested and confirmed to be asbestos-free by a range of independent laboratories, universities, and global health authorities.”
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are bundled together as fibers that can be pulled apart for a variety of commercial uses. Asbestos has been utilized since the late 1800s because it is durable and resistant to heat and corrosion and thus practical for many industrial and household applications.
What Are the Hazards of Exposure?
Minute fibers scatter into the air whenever asbestos is disturbed. These fibers can get trapped in the lungs and other body cavities, causing damage that leads to difficulty breathing and even serious disease like cancer. Asbestos occurs naturally in soil and water and has been in use for so long that virtually everyone has been exposed to it at some time. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified asbestos as a “known human carcinogen.”
Why Is Asbestos in Talcum Powder?
When processed into powder, talc helps keep skin dry and smooth because it absorbs moisture and reduces friction. These attributes make talc an important ingredient in products like cosmetics and baby powder. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states, “Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that may be found in close proximity in the earth. Unlike talc, however, asbestos is a known carcinogen when inhaled. There is the potential for contamination of talc with asbestos and therefore, it is important to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to test the ore sufficiently.”
How We Help Victims of Asbestos Exposure
Seek justice with the help of our experienced asbestos attorneys. Our asbestos law firm has represented individuals like you affected by asbestos exposure for over 20 years, aggressively fighting the corporate giants responsible for their dangerous products. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos or suffer from a disease caused by asbestos like mesothelioma, we can help.