The name Johnson & Johnson has been synonymous with healthcare and baby products for decades. However, for years now, they have been battling accusations that their baby powder, one of their hallmark products, contained asbestos and, consequently, caused ovarian cancer in thousands of women. Its sale has since been discontinued.
Johnson & Johnson’s reputation isn’t the only thing suffering because of these allegations. Thousands of product lawsuits have subsequently been filed against Johnson & Johnson throughout the United States and Canada.
So Is All Baby Powder or Talcum Powder Dangerous?
According to the American Cancer Association, talcum powder is created from talc, a mineral composite of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It has been widely used in many products, from cosmetics to baby powder. Unfortunately, in some cases, talc may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. This can be particularly dangerous when inhaled or used around the genitals.
Johnson & Johnson’s particular liability comes from the fact that investigations of internal documents from the 1970s revealed that their baby powder did have asbestos in it, they knew about it, and they continued to sell it. Consequently, many users of their baby powder have been diagnosed with cancer, particularly ovarian cancer.
How Can a Company Be Held Liable for a Product Under Florida Law?
Product liability laws are designed to protect innocent consumers from dangerous products. In a product liability claim against a company, three different types of defects could create a liability:
- Design defects if the product’s design had harmful elements
- Manufacturing defects if the way the product was manufactured caused harmful elements
- Failure to warn when a company knew of harmful elements as they concerned their product but failed to warn consumers
In this case, Johnson & Johnson fell under the last scenario by failing to warn the public about the potential of harm caused by their powder. Since the first lawsuits were filed, there are now more than 34,000 lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contributed to their or a loved one’s cancer.
How Johnson & Johnson Can Try to Avoid Liability
According to news reports, in order to offset liability, Johnson & Johnson allegedly explored taking measures to rid itself of many of these lawsuits by using a bankruptcy strategy called the Texas Two-Step strategy. This allows a company to reincorporate itself in Texas and then undertake a divisive merger that splits the company into two separate entities. While one of these gets most of the assets, the other gets most of the liabilities, such as these lawsuits. Afterward, the company with the liabilities files for bankruptcy. This is completely legal in the state of Texas.
Last month, plaintiffs in lawsuits sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent Johnson & Johnson from taking these measures. Although a bankruptcy judge has since sided with Johnson & Johnson, they have made no moves to use this tactic, and it is doubtful that it would be successful. If it does go forward, however, it will tie this matter up in bankruptcy court and may leave those with pending lawsuits further victimized by Johnson & Johnson.
The Importance of Filing a Baby Powder Lawsuit Now
In Florida, we have a statute of limitations for product liability claims. A claimant has two years from the time the injury was discovered to file a product liability claim. If a loved one died as the result of a defective product, a claimant only has two years from the date of their death to file.
If you or a loved one was harmed by Johnson & Johnson baby powder, the Tampa Bay product liability attorneys at Ged Lawyers are here to help. Call us at (561) 562-4170 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss a possible claim.