Early this month, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) joined the thousands of people living with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and ovarian cancer to argue against Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) bankruptcy plan.
J&J faces more than 40,000 lawsuits from plaintiffs who claim that exposure to their asbestos-contaminated talcum powder years ago left them with devastating illnesses. While the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy was approved, the DOJ has since filed an amicus brief with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requesting the bankruptcy be dismissed.
They argue that J&J is using bankruptcy as a shield to protect the company from consumers seeking compensation for their losses. The outcome of this case will set an important precedent for future claims against companies that produce, sell, and market dangerous or defective products.
In April 2022, a United States federal Judge ruled that J&J’s bankruptcy plan to potentially avoid 40,000 cosmetic talc claims would not apply to a separate class action lawsuit. This lawsuit involves industrial talc versus cosmetic talc.
That New Jersey Superior Court ruling is related to a complaint dating back to 1986. In that complaint, a man alleged that his lung disease was caused by exposure to asbestos during his work for a mining company in Vermont. At the time of his employment, J&J owned the mine.
Although the man passed away in 1994, his family has since reopened the case. They claim J&J falsified test results and hid records which led to the original case being dropped. This case is just one of over a thousand similar cases filed and dismissed during the 1980s. The new ruling allows these cases to come together in a class action lawsuit against J&J. The federal Judge who approved the J&J bankruptcy also ruled the industrial talc class action suit differs from the cosmetic claims and can proceed.
Talc is a mineral that occurs naturally in the earth. Because it absorbs moisture, it is used in a variety of widely-used products, including cosmetics and personal care goods.
Asbestos is another naturally-occurring mineral and a known carcinogen. Because the two minerals are often located in close proximity to each other in the earth, there is the potential of contamination. For that reason, companies must take appropriate precautions to identify safe sites and mine talc carefully.
People should avoid contact with asbestos, as it is dangerous when disturbed. Exposure to asbestos can lead to the following health problems:
The trades at risk of asbestos exposure is lengthy. For some, exposure occurred decades ago before the dangers of asbestos were understood. For example, childcare workers who used talc in baby powder may be at risk. Hairdryers and hot curling irons used to contain asbestos insulation, posing a risk to hairdressers. Scientific equipment and protective gloves once contained asbestos as well.
Today, many manufacturing and construction materials still contain asbestos. Building crews, electrical workers, railroad workers, and mechanics should take proper precautions when working with these products.
When it comes to talc litigation and other lawsuits related to asbestos exposure, here are the facts:
An attorney who is experienced with mesothelioma cases is essential to building a compelling case for compensation. However, asbestos cases are not always easy to prove. That is because symptoms often appear decades after initial exposure to asbestos.
It takes a skilled attorney who understands the link between asbestos and certain medical conditions to achieve a good outcome. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Asbestos exposure can lead to serious and debilitating health problems. Our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler advocate for mesothelioma clients facing mounting medical bills, lost income, and more. To learn more, call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.