ATRA Commends J&J’s Plan to Resolve Notorious Talc Lawsuits

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Claimants Given Opportunity to Vote on Plan; Judge to Reconsider Scientific Validity of Plaintiffs’ Experts

The American Tort Reform Association applauds Johnson & Johnson’s newly proposed plan to resolve the company’s talc litigation in a fair and transparent manner as announced today.

“This plan, developed collaboratively between all parties involved in the litigation, is in the best interest of all parties to litigation, and it would resolve nearly all outstanding talc claims,” Tiger Joyce, ATRA president said. “Unlike in the previous cases, this plan would move forward if 75% of claimants themselves – not their lawyers – vote to proceed. This is a refreshing departure from the conflicting financial incentives that prolonged this litigation for years.”

The plan’s announcement comes as a federal judge overseeing the talc multidistrict litigation has agreed to rigorously re-examine the plaintiffs’ expert testimony under newly amended Federal Rule of Evidence 702. The rule fortifies judges’ gatekeeping duties to weed out unreliable “junk science.”

ATRA is a staunch proponent of applying rigorous scientific standards in order for evidence to be introduced in court and long has raised concerns about the questionable scientific evidence underpinning the talc lawsuits. While the American Cancer Society additionally acknowledges mixed evidence on any link between talc use and ovarian cancer, emphasizing the minimal increase in risk, if any, this litigation still has resulted in multimillion-dollar verdicts against J&J.

“If the experts for the plaintiffs cannot withstand heightened scrutiny of their methodologies, as may very well occur, the ovarian cancer claims should rightfully be dismissed,” Joyce said. “We urge judges in federal and state courts across the country to emulate this approach and take seriously their role as ‘gatekeepers’ to prevent the introduction of junk science, which has the effect of corrupting civil justice.”

ATRA commends J&J for pursuing a claimant-driven resolution that provides a fair, substantial recovery while upholding critical evidentiary standards. This plan represents a balanced path forward in one of the nation’s most notorious mass torts.

Background on Plan:

  • The plan would resolve 99.75% of all pending talc lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and its affiliates in the U.S.
  • The plan provides for a three-month solicitation period during which ovarian claimants are informed of its terms and will have the opportunity to vote for or against the plan – an opportunity they were denied in prior bankruptcy cases.
  • The plan commits Johnson & Johnson to pay ovarian claimants a present value of approximately $6.475 billion to be paid over 25 years.

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