Johnson & Johnson proposes $8.9 billion payout to settle talcum powder lawsuits

A subsidiary of the company will re-file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seek court approval for a plan that would result in one of the largest product-liability settlements in U.S. history.

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A bottle of Johnson’s baby powder. Its maker Johnson & Johnson is earmarking nearly $9 billion to cover accusations that its baby power containing talc caused cancer, more than quadrupling the amount the company previously set aside to pay for its potential liability.

A bottle of Johnson’s baby powder. Its maker Johnson & Johnson is earmarking nearly $9 billion to cover accusations that its baby power containing talc caused cancer, more than quadrupling the amount the company previously set aside to pay for its potential liability.

Jeff Chiu / AP

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Johnson & Johnson is earmarking nearly $9 billion to cover accusations that its baby power containing talc caused cancer — more than quadrupling the amount the company previously set aside to pay for its potential liability.

A J&J subsidiary plans to re-file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seek court approval for a plan that would result in one of the largest product-liability settlements in U.S. history.

The $8.9 billion that J&J would transfer to subsidiary LTL Management would be payable over the next 25 years.

The amount is up from the $2 billion that the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company set aside in October 2021.

The revised amount is being backed by more than 60,000 parties that have filed lawsuits over harm they say J&J talcum powder caused, according to the company.

J&J isn’t admitting wrongdoing as part of its proposed settlement. Going beyond that, Erik Haas, J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation, said the lawsuits’ claims of harm “are specious and lack scientific merit.”

But fighting the lawsuits would take decades and be expensive, Haas said.

The lawsuits filed against J&J said its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, through use for feminine hygiene, and mesothelioma, a cancer that strikes the lungs and other organs.

The lawsuits contributed to a drop in Johnson & Johnson’s sales of baby powder, prompting the company to stop selling its talc-based products in 2020.

Last year, the company announced plans to cease sales of the product worldwide.

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