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Beasley Allen and Levin Papantonio: Leading Law Firms Seek Protection for Future Victims of Johnson & Johnson Talc Products

Class action lawsuit demands compensation for future talc-related injuries and medical monitoring of talcum powder users

Plaintiffs who are at increased risk of ovarian cancer due to long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder have filed a class action lawsuit in New Jersey federal court seeking to hold Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and a number of corporate subsidiaries and executives responsible for future liability and to establish a court-supervised system to monitor the ongoing health condition of talcum powder users.

The proposed class action alleges that the defendants had knowledge of the presence of asbestos and other carcinogenic substances in the company’s talcum powder products, including the Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brands, but chose to suppress that evidence and failed to inform the public about the health risks.

“It is an unconscionable tragedy that this company deliberately chose to deny and conceal evidence of the risks of talc and insist through its marketing that women can safely use the products,” says Leigh O’Dell of the Beasley Allen Law Firm.

The motion requests compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the establishment of a medical monitoring program to support the early detection of the disease, which affects an estimated 20,000 women annually in the United States.

“By pursuing this class action, we intend to ensure that J&J cannot abandon its responsibility, not only to women who currently suffer from ovarian cancer due to talc, but also to all of those future victims who are at increased risk because of the dangerous constituent ingredients – including asbestos – that have been present in talc for more than 50 years,” says Andy Birchfield of Beasley Allen.

J&J recently announced the pursuit of a prepackaged bankruptcy plan to shed responsibility for talc claims in an unspecified federal court in Texas. Two previous bankruptcy filings by the company have been denied by the courts in New Jersey, where J&J is headquartered.

“The inadequate funding of this bankruptcy ploy doesn’t realistically address the needs of women who could develop ovarian cancer in the future because of past baby powder use,” says Chris Tisi of Levin Papantonio Rafferty. “A key objective of this complaint is to protect those women.”

In another class action, brought by a separate group of plaintiffs in the same court, plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and argued that the company's actions, including the proposed third bankruptcy filing, are designed to delay justice and reduce the funds available to compensate victims. Those claims highlight the broader concerns expressed by legislators and legal experts about the use of bankruptcy protections by financially solvent companies to evade legal responsibilities for tort claims.

Also outlined in the filing is a timeline covering more than 20 years of J&J’s deliberations about eliminating talc from the company’s products and transitioning to cornstarch as the primary ingredient. According to the most recent lawsuit, the company abandoned that strategy.

On May 19, 2020, J&J announced that it would stop the sale of all talc-based products in the United States and Canada. Two years later, the company announced the worldwide discontinuation of sale of all talc-based products by 2023.

In addition, today’s filing summarizes the scientific evidence supporting an association between talc and ovarian cancer, findings which were first published in the medical literature in 1971. Since the first epidemiologic study on talc powder use in the female genital area was published in 1982, dozens of other scientific studies have shown an elevated risk for ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use in women, as well as biologically plausible explanations as to how genital talc use can cause ovarian cancer.

The plaintiffs in the proposed class action are represented by a coalition of law firms, including Anapol Weiss, Levin Papantonio Rafferty Proctor Buchanan O’Brien Barr Mougey, Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles, Ashcraft & Gerel, Burns Charest LLP, and Levin Sedran & Berman LLP.

The motion is filed as Joni S. Bynum, et al. v LLT Management LLC et al., No. 3:24-cv-07065 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.


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