Battling more than 20,000 lawsuits alleging its talc powder causes cancer, Johnson & Johnson is moving to settle more than 1,000 suits for about $100 million, Bloomberg reports.
J&J, which hasn’t faced a talc trial in months amid the pandemic, used the slowdown to advance settlement negotiations, according to the news service. The company is inking settlements with numerous law firms representing more than 1,000 clients, the report said.
“In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products,” a J&J spokeswoman told Bloomberg. The company maintains its talc is “safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”
The move comes as the number of talc cases against J&J has grown to more than 20,000 as of the company’s latest quarterly securities filing. Earlier this year, the company pulled talc powders from the market—citing a portfolio review—and launched cornstarch-based powders.
J&J is normally “loathe to settle,” University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Bloomberg, so the new group of deals signals a “strategy rather than a sign of desperation.” At times during its talc defense, the company has inked one-off settlements.
It'd cost around $10 billion for J&J to settle all of its remaining talc lawsuits, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates.
Meanwhile, it’s been months since the drugmaker was in a jury trial over talc claims, but that’s set to change next week as a trial starts up in California, Bloomberg reports.
Over the course of its talc defense, numerous juries have ruled against the company; J&J has pledged to appeal in each case. A jury ordered the company to pay $4.7 billion in 2018, but J&J was able to reduce that amount to $2.1 billion after an appeal.