Cheating Victims: J&J’s Third Bankruptcy Attempt

A shocking, but not surprising, new legal strategy from Johnson & Johnson (J&J). They are encouraging unsupported claims in exchange for votes on a payment plan that would cheat victims who were actually harmed by talc.

This could strip consumers of their constitutional rights and allow major corporations to avoid responsibility for the harm caused by their defective products.

Sounding the Alarm:

Lawyers representing victims and families in lawsuits alleging J&J’s talc-containing products caused cancer are concerned about a payment plan proposal as part of a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy.

“We believe any bankruptcy based on this solicitation and vote will be found fraudulent and filed in bad faith under the Bankruptcy Code,” said Andy Birchfield, head of the Mass Torts Section at the Beasley Allen Law Firm. “On behalf of our clients who deserve better, we are blowing the whistle on this cynical legal tactic and will resist it at every turn.”

J&J Will Stop at Nothing

Let’s take a look at the facts.

  • J&J officials previously said that cancer claims other than ovarian cancer and mesothelioma were worthless. Now the company promises minimal payments for these “worthless” claims in exchange for a “yes” vote.
  • J&J is offering small payments to receive support for a payment plan that would force actual victims to receive far less compensation than they deserve.
  • Medical costs for treating ovarian cancer can total more than $1.5 million per patient, with an average near $220,000. The proposal would pay pennies on the dollar.
  • Many of the new complaints are about types of cancer that science hasn’t linked to talc, like cancer of the cervix, vagina, uterus, and the lining of the uterus.
  • If J&J gets away with this plan, it could lead other companies to try dodging responsibility and messing with the U.S. bankruptcy system in a similar way.

J&J has tried twice to transfer all its talc-related legal issues to one of its smaller companies and then declare that company bankrupt. Both times, the courts have found that the company acted in bad faith. This will be the third bankruptcy attempt in three years.

With the strategy they called “pre-pack,” J&J would need to get the okay from at least 75% of the people who have filed claims against them, proving those claims are legitimate.

“It seems unlikely that J&J would pursue this course without some belief, even if misplaced, that the 75% threshold can be achieved,” said Leigh O’Dell, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the federal MDL and principal at the Beasley Allen Law Firm. “The company is afraid of a legitimate vote among those who are truly sick and the families of the deceased who have been battling J&J’s obstruction and bad faith for years and who are supported by numerous scientific studies showing that talc contains asbestos and other known cancer-causing ingredients.”

We will not stop fighting to get our clients the justice they deserve.

Talcum Powder

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