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Johnson & Johnson’s Attack on Consumer Protection

towels-5961628_1280-e1665172973117Around 20,000 women get an ovarian cancer diagnosis each year. For more than half, the illness is fatal. Johnson & Johnson has spent billions on lawsuits related to talc. A recent piece in the New Yorker outlined the new legal strategy the company’s executives have used to halt the substantial litigation—if the strategy is successful, other companies may use it, too, and this could harm future claims brought by injured consumers. If you suffered ovarian cancer and believe it may have been caused by Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder (or talcum powder made by a different manufacturer), you should call the Chicago-based product liability lawyers of Moll Law Group. Our firm represents injured consumers and billions have been recovered in the cases with which we’ve been involved.

Call Moll Law Group About Your J&J Talc Claim

Risk factors for ovarian cancer include a family history of reproductive cancer, use of fertility drugs, being overweight, unhealthy diet, and prior cancer diagnosis. Another risk factor is use of talcum powder. Research underlying the claims of a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association didn’t find a statistically significant connection between talc and ovarian cancer; however it also didn’t necessarily distinguish between talc-containing powders and baby powders that didn’t contain talc. Other studies have found a significant connection between women who used talc for feminine hygiene and cancer.

Once aware of a potential risk, many manufacturers stopped using talc—cornstarch in baby powder is cheap and safer. But Johnson & Johnson continued to use talc in spite of the complex issues around its use, and in spite of being a brand with influence and trusting consumers. The company’s slogan was, for a time: “A sprinkle a day helps keep odor away.”

According to an article in The New Yorker, one woman had undergone genetic testing prior to using talcum powder from Johnson & Johnson. Although the initial test results showed she did not have mutations that increase the chances of developing cancer, later tests of her ovarian tissue, after using talcum powder from Johnson & Johnson, revealed talc in her tissues. Many consumers were not aware, prior to the baby powder litigation, that the powder had included asbestos—Johnson & Johnson had denied any connection. Crucially, in 1998, one of the company’s marketing PowerPoints specified that the baby division—to which baby powder belongs—was the company’s #1 asset. And meanwhile, in spite of issuing a denial, Johnson & Johnson continued to test to see if there was a connection between talc and ovarian cancer.

In 2020, after juries awarded some plaintiffs billions in damages, the company announced it would no longer distribute the talc-based units of the product in America. However, it pivoted and used a legal strategy that other companies are also using, while continuing to sell the products. Its new strategy was changing its business structure using a “divisional merger” or what’s also known as a Texas two-step. In this move, the old Johnson & Johnson merged with a limited liability company to file for Chapter 11 business. The L.L.C. that the manufacturer created took on the company’s liabilities and a new Johnson & Johnson company was started. The new company has none of the liabilities for talc lawsuits.

If Johnson & Johnson succeeds in its strategy of evading damages by filing for bankruptcy, consumer protections across the country could be gutted such that consumers would not be allowed to make their case before juries when consumer protection laws do not, after all, work to protect them from injuries.

Consult a Seasoned Lawyer About J&J Talc Injuries

Nearly all Americans have used Johnson & Johnson products at some point. If you or a loved one suffered ovarian cancer and suspect it’s because of baby powder by Johnson & Johnson talc or another talcum powder, you should call the seasoned Chicago-based personal injury lawyers of Moll Law Group about whether you have grounds to sue. Give us a call at 312.462.1700 or via our online form if you suspect you may have a claim.

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