Johnson & Johnson® Talc Supplier Files for Bankruptcy Amid Cancer Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson® talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., supplies the talcum that the pharmaceutical giant uses in their products, including baby powder. The talc supplier has recently filed for bankruptcy in the wake of thousands of lawsuits claiming that Johnson & Johnson talc products cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Imerys Facing Thousands of Lawsuits

Thousands of cancer victims and families have filed lawsuits against J&J, naming the company’s talc supplier, Imerys in the complaints. The lawsuits claim that J&J’s baby powder is contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. J&J has been fighting these lawsuits for the past 3 years and is facing over 13,000 claims that their products contain asbestos. Imerys faces over 14,000 similar lawsuits.

Last year, J&J was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by asbestos from the company’s products. Imerys paid another $5 million to these women. Around the same time, Imerys and J&J paid another $117 million in damages to a man with mesothelioma who claimed his disease was caused by asbestos in their talc products.

Some of these lawsuits also allege that J&J knew their talc contained asbestos as early as the 1970s. Both Imerys and J&J assert that their products are safe. But, according to an investigative report by Reuters, J&J’s company memos show that their talc products sometimes tested positive for asbestos between 1971 and the early 2000s.

Imerys Talc Trust Fund Will Handle Claims

Johnson & Johnson talc supplier, Imerys has set up a trust fund that will pay out compensation to victims for years to come, even after the company exits bankruptcy. This will protect the company from future talc lawsuits.

Companies that file for bankruptcy may be forced by bankruptcy courts to set up trust funds to prevent them from avoiding lawsuits. These trust funds handle current and future claims against the company, providing victims and their families with the compensation they deserve. In this case, Imerys will set aside a specific amount of money to cover current and future legal complaints against them.

Over 100 other companies have been forced to set up asbestos trust funds in the past.

Johns Manville Corporation was the first company to establish an asbestos trust fund—The Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust. This fund provides compensation to workers who developed asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos trust funds have also been set up by Babcock & Wilcox, Turner and Newall, Pittsburgh Corning and many other companies that used asbestos in their products.

Lawsuits stop when a company enters bankruptcy protection. Victims seeking compensation from Imerys must now file claims against the trust fund. To access these funds, you must have a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease or be a family member of someone who died from one. The benefit to victims is that trust fund claims are out-of-court procedures and happen faster than asbestos lawsuits.

The Future of Asbestos-Talc Lawsuits for Victims

Up until now, juries on asbestos-talc trials had to decide who was more at fault, J&J or Imerys. In a previous New Jersey trial, jurors decided that J&J held 70% of the responsibility and Imerys held 30%. Since Imerys is no longer a defendant in asbestos-talc trials, J&J is facing these lawsuits alone.

The impending Imerys bankruptcy will bring all current and future lawsuits against them under one judge. This will pressure plaintiffs into accepting smaller settlements because the money in the trust fund will need to be split among current and future victims.

Since it can take years for mesothelioma to develop, more future victims will likely seek compensation from Johnson & Johnson talc supplier, Imerys. Funds must be available for future claims, so the money cannot be allocated entirely to current victims. The trust fund administrators determine how the funds get distributed.

As more and more talc-asbestos cases emerge, victims are finally receiving compensation. Companies like J&J exploit the long period of time it takes for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure. This delay makes it difficult for victims to provide proof to support their lawsuit in court. Fortunately, this has not stopped victims of asbestos companies from seeking the justice they deserve.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 29, 2019

View 2 Sources
  1. “J&J Left to Fend for Itself in Talc Suits After Supplier’s Bankruptcy” Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-05/even-without-purdue-pharma-sackler-family-is-worth-13-billion. Accessed on March 5, 2019.
  2. “Imerys Talc Units File Bankruptcy as Cancer-Suit Risk Soars” Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-13/imerys-sa-unit-seeks-bankruptcy-protection-over-talc-lawsuits. Accessed on March 5, 2019.