Johnson & Johnson inks $700M deal to resolve talc consumer protection claims from 42 states

After failing to resolve a mountain of talcum-powder lawsuits through two unsuccessful bankruptcy attempts, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $700 million settlement that would free the company from some consumer protection claims—and a small part of the talc litigation that it faces.

J&J plans to pay $700 million to 42 states and the District of Columbia to settle claims that the company did not warn of the potential health risks posed by its talcum-based products, including its iconic Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Bloomberg first revealed the agreement two weeks ago, with the company confirming the news to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“Consistent with the plan we outlined last year, the company continues to pursue several paths to achieve a comprehensive and final resolution of the talc litigation,” J&J litigation chief Erik Haas said in an emailed statement confirming the report. “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.”

Among the states that did not sign on to the agreement are Mississippi and New Mexico, which filed separate suits against J&J in 2014 and 2020. Those states are seeking larger settlements.

Also outstanding are more than 53,000 lawsuits from people who claim that the use of the company’s talc products caused their ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. In pursuing a talc bankruptcy strategy for a second time last year, J&J tried to resolve all the claims with a settlement offer of $8.9 billion.

As part of that $8.9 billion offer, the company reportedly earmarked $400 million to resolve the state consumer protection claims.

Since then, the company has offered $6.9 billion to settle ovarian cancer claims, according to the Lawsuit Informational Center, a website established by Miller and Zois, LLC, which updates plaintiffs on the status of the talc lawsuits. The site says that J&J is attempting to resolve the ovarian cancer and mesothelioma claims separately.

J&J also faces action from shareholders who claim the company concealed its knowledge of its talc products containing cancer-causing asbestos from 2013 to 2018. Last month, a New Jersey federal judge allowed the securities fraud claim to go forward.

J&J discontinued sales of its talc-based baby powder in North America in 2020 and did the same worldwide in 2023. It now sells a cornstarch version of the product. The company has claimed throughout that its talc-based products are safe.