Johnson & Johnson to Pay $700 Million Settlement Over Talc Powder

Johnson & Johnson to Pay $700 Million Settlement Over Talc Powder
Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York Oct. 15, 2015. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The District of Columbia has reached a final consent judgment with Johnson & Johnson, resolving allegations it misled consumers about the safety of some talcum powder products in a significant legal settlement.

Under the the consent judgment, the company will pay $700 million to 47 states involved in a multistate working group without admitting wrongdoing or liability. Both parties agreed to the judgment to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation.

The company will pay in four annual installments beginning July 30. The judgment is still pending judicial approval.

The company agreed to permanently stop manufacturing, marketing, promoting, selling, and distributing talcum powder products in the United States. Products covered under the judgment include Johnson’s Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower.

Erik Hass, the company’s worldwide vice president of litigation, said in a media statement that Johnson & Johnson continues to pursue several paths to a final resolution of the talc litigation.

“That progress includes the finalization of a previously announced agreement that the Company reached with a consortium of 43 State Attorneys Generals to resolve their talc claims,” he said. “We will continue to address the claims of those who do not want to participate in our contemplated consensual bankruptcy resolution through litigation or settlement.”

The Epoch Times contacted Johnson & Johnson and a representative from its legal team for further comment.

D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, acting on behalf of the plaintiffs, accused Johnson & Johnson of deceptive marketing practices related to their Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The lawsuit sought a permanent injunction and other relief under D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

43 Attorneys General

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who was among the bipartisan attorneys general involved in the litigation, issued a statement on Monday.

“Consumers rely on accurate information when making decisions about which products to purchase for their families,” he said. “Any company—no matter how large—must be held accountable when laws protecting consumers are broken and their trust is violated. I will continue to work to ensure consumers are protected from false advertising, scams and dangerous products in the marketplace.”

Soon after Mr. Raoul and a group of state attorneys general began investigating the matter, Johnson & Johnson stopped distributing and selling baby powder and body powder products containing talc in the United States.

According to a court document, California is expected to receive around $78 million, Texas will get $61 million, Florida $48 million, New Jersey $30 million, and Illinois $29 million as part of the settlement, pending court approval. The remaining states expect between $3 million and $30 million.

The settlement was led by the attorneys general of Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, along with an executive committee consisting of Mr. Raoul and other attorneys general. The list of attorneys general involved in the settlement includes representatives from Arizona, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have also joined the settlement.

Broader Litigation Over Talc-Based Products

Johnson & Johnson has been involved in legal issues concerning its talc-based products, with claims that talc may cause serious health problems such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

Recently, a jury in Portland, Oregon, awarded $260 million in damages to a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, allegedly due to exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. Ms. Lee’s attorneys highlighted the risks of asbestos-contaminated talc products. Evidence presented during the trial suggested that the company knew about asbestos in its talc powder but did not withdraw the product from the market until recent years.

The jury awarded $60 million in compensatory damages and an additional $200 million in punitive damages.

J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation said the verdict contradicts decades of scientific evaluations confirming talc is safe and does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

On May 1, the company proposed a $6.5 billion settlement to address claims alleging that its talc products led to ovarian cancer. This settlement, expected to be paid over 25 years, is intended to address thousands of pending lawsuits in the United States.

Despite J&J’s statement that its talc products are safe, the company stopped selling talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada in 2020 and plans to phase out global sales by 2023.

Chase Smith contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times