Levy Konigsberg has filed a motion to consolidate for a single trial the cases of 22 people diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder. The motion, filed in the Superior Court in Middlesex. County, New Jersey, comes less than a week after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Kaplan ruled that talc lawsuits against publicly-traded Johnson & Johnson may move forward in state courts so long as the trials do not start for approximately 60 days. Talc cancer lawsuits against J&J have been delayed for more than 18 months due to an improper bankruptcy filing orchestrated by J&J, one of the wealthiest companies in the world. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled on January 30, 2023 that J&J’s bankruptcy, filed by its shell company known as Legacy Talc Liabilities (LTL) was an abuse of the bankruptcy court system. But, shockingly, just two hours after the J&J talc bankruptcy was dismissed on April 4, 2023, J&J (through its LTL subsidiary) filed for bankruptcy again. Although Judge Kaplan has not yet dismissed the second bankruptcy, he ruled on April 22, 2023, that “claimants who have had over the past 18 months their claims and litigation stalled during the pendency of the prior bankruptcy, should not lose more valuable time.” This ruling allows Levy Konigsberg to move forward with its motion to consolidate for trial the mesothelioma cases of 7 men and 15 women. Of the 22 cases, 12 are still living with mesothelioma, with the other 10 cases continuing through surviving family members. This group of mesothelioma victims and families seek to have a jury evaluate the evidence of J&J’s egregious corporate wrongdoing, which was previously presented to a New Jersey jury that, in February 2020, awarded $750 million against J&J for the company’s reckless disregard for safety that resulted in the mesothelioma cancers of three men and one woman.
Mesothelioma Talc Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson
Evidence presented in jury trials has shown that J&J knew of the presence of asbestos in the talc used in Johnson’s Baby Powder going as far back as the 1950s. Specifically, the company learned that fibrous tremolite (defined as asbestos by J&J’s own internal testing definition) was found in J&J’s talc in the 1950s. The company’s internal documents in the 1960s discussed the issue of needle-like tremolite fibers and cancer and the “furor” that would result if the public ever learned about these issues. In the early 1970s, Dr. Arthur Langer from Mt. Sinai Hospital detected chrysotile asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder in laboratory testing. Langer told J&J’s top medical official about his findings but J&J pushed back against the findings and publicly stated that its talc “never” contained asbestos and has repeated these false assurances through the present day. Over many decades, J&J was presented with other findings from independent testing labs demonstrating asbestos in J&J’s talc. These findings from labs including the University of Minnesota, McCrone Laboratories, Forensic Analytical, and Dr. Alice Blount were not only ignored by J&J, but the company pushed back against anyone who questioned the safety of talc, even compiling a list of public health officials and researchers which J&J referred to as “antagonistic personalities”. When Reuters and the New York Times published investigative news stories in December 2018 documenting J&J’s decades long internal knowledge of the presence of asbestos in its talc, J&J falsely reassured the public with full-page newspaper ads and with then CEO Alex Gorsky denying that talc contained asbestos on national television and in a widely distributed company video. When the FDA confirmed in October 2019 the presence of asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder purchased off-the shelf, J&J still refused to warn the public or take the product off the market. It was only in May 2020 – one month after J&J lost its federal court challenge to expert scientific testing showing asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder – that J&J finally announced the discontinuation of its iconic talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada. J&J simply substituted the talc ingredient with corn starch, an asbestos-free alternative – something J&J could have done decades earlier when they first learned about asbestos in talc.
Why J&J’s Corrupt Bankruptcy Should Matter to Everyone?
J&J’s attempt to use the bankruptcy system to avoid jury trials is an issue that should matter to everyone. The 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil lawsuits seeking money damages. If J&J, who is valued at approximately a half a trillion dollars, is permitted to transfer its talc liabilities into a shell company and misuse the bankruptcy system to avoid jury trials, then any wealthy company or person could do the same thing. The bankruptcy courts exist to help companies and people that are in financial distress and need the shelter of bankruptcy to help reorganize their business or financial affairs. The bankruptcy courts should not be abused by wealthy companies to deprive people of their constitutional right to a trial by jury. Anyone who values the United States Constitution and believes that the wealthy and non-wealthy should be required to play by the same set of rules should be opposed to J&J’s abuse of the bankruptcy system.
The 22 Mesothelioma Cases Involve Women and Men Who Were Exposed to Asbestos from Johnson’s Baby Powder
The 22 mesothelioma cases Levy Konigsberg is seeking to join for a single trial are cases that commonly involve men and women regularly exposed to asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder. The cases have all been awaiting trial in the Superior Court for Middlesex County, New Jersey for a number of years, with file dates ranging from 2016 through 2021. The COVID pandemic, combined with J&J’s prior improper attempt to remove talc cases to federal court in 2019, and J&J’s improper bankruptcy filings, have all combined to delay the trial of these cases for many years. Levy Konigsberg looks forward to presenting the evidence in these cases so that the jury – and not a bankruptcy court- can decide these cases as is required by the U.S. Constitution. The 22 mesothelioma cases included in the jury trial consolidation motion are listed here:
SABATELLI, MID-L-5902-16AS; GARCIA, MID-L-1515-17AS; LaBARR-MABRY, MID-L-04652-17AS; KALISH MID-L-004726-17; CARDENAS MID-L-4794-17AS; DOGANALP MID-L-5279-17AS; LUM MID-L-02450-18AS; PRECIADO MID-L-003702-18; GAGLIARDI MID-L-03805-18AS; CARTWRIGHT MID-L-04446-18AS; PULIDO MID-L-4927-18AS; JACKSON MID-L-6217-20AS; BLACK MID-L-05218-18A; IACUZZO MID-L-08223-18AS; LORD MID-L-02148-19AS; RIVERS MID-L-004686-19AS; AWAD MID-L-06305-19AS; WEATHERS MID-L-00549-20AS; MEIKLE MID-L-3771-20AS; DEROUEN MID-L-5122-20AS; SIMS MID-L-003923-20AS; ZACHARA MID-L-001028-21AS
For more information call (800) 315-3806 and connect with Levy Konigsberg and our talc mesothelioma litigation team. All initial consultations are FREE and confidential.