Facing thousands of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is pursuing a controversial legal maneuver aimed at helping them evade legal responsibility for the damage their products caused. Despite the company’s robust financial position, Johnson & Johnson attempting split off a subsidiary, assigned talc liability to the new company, and had it seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Now a group of legal experts has filed an amicus brief, decrying the consumer giant’s strategy.
Legal Experts File Amicus Brief Alongside Mesothelioma Plaintiffs
Calling Johnson & Johnson’s use of the bankruptcy system to settle mesothelioma lawsuits a “serious abuse,” seven of the country’s most highly respected law professors have asked for approval to file an amicus– “friend of the court” — brief in support of the mesothelioma and ovarian cancer victims whose litigation the company is trying to evade.
There are approximately 38,000 mesothelioma and ovarian cancer lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson. They accuse the company of failing to warn against the dangers of asbestos contamination in their iconic baby powder product and other talc-based products.
Bankruptcy Maneuver Would Diminish Compensation to Mesothelioma Victims
By using what the legal profession calls a “Texas two-step”, Johnson & Johnson hope to move all of the claims filed by victims to an asbestos bankruptcy trust fund. This would significantly diminish the compensation that mesothelioma victims and victims of ovarian cancer receive when filing claims and eliminate individual litigation. The company has already been ordered to pay billions to victims who have prevailed in earlier lawsuits.
Attorneys for the mesothelioma and ovarian cancer victims pointed to the academics’ unusual move, saying that it “highlights how egregious J&J’s abuse of the bankruptcy process is. In their filing the professors point to the tactic as part of an “alarming trend” designed to “deprive innocent talc victims of their day in court.” They call it a “direct attack on the fundamental integrity” of Chapter 11.
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