Late Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson offered more than quadruple the amount of its original $2 billion settlement to tens of thousands of lawsuits.
The grand total of $8.9 billion in the settlement would be distributed to the 60,000 current lawsuit plaintiffs as well as any future ones if the court approves the proposal, per the company.
The diverse health care product company has been under scrutiny for its baby powder for years, with claimants arguing that asbestos in the talcum-based powder led to ovarian and other lesser-known cancers.
The subsidiary of J&J called LTL Management was created for the express purpose of paying out any settlements. Filing for bankruptcy, the company is working to get approval to pay the amount over the course of 25 years.
But none of this, said the company, is an admission of wrongdoing — a standing it has maintained despite evidence of asbestos in the product, which the company claimed were data “outliers.“
“The company continues to believe that these claims are specious and lack scientific merit,” wrote Erik Haas, J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation. He said that resolving the cases this way is more “equitable” and “efficient,” allowing the money to be distributed more evenly while the company focuses on its core mission statement.
A large group of plaintiffs’ law firms gave their support for the proposed settlement, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“This settlement is a testament to the tens of thousands of women who have battled both cancer and the court system to achieve justice for themselves,” Alicia O’Neill of Watts Guerra LLC told the Journal. She said that her law firm represents 70,000 plaintiffs. “These strong women have ensured that no other woman will be exposed to this unnecessary danger. They deserve compensation and closure.”
Despite the claims from J&J of the safety of the baby powder, the company plans to discontinue the product globally in 2023 and replace the talcum-based product with a cornstarch-based one.