TRENTON, N.J. – This week, Johnson & Johnson announced what the company says is a resolution of tens of thousands of talc ovarian cancer and mesothelioma claims.
The following statement is a reaction from attorneys Leigh O’Dell of the Beasley Allen Law Firm and Michelle Parfitt of Ashcraft & Gerel, co-chairs of the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the federal court multidistrict litigation of these cases:
J&J’s arrogance is boundless, and its mockery of the court system demonstrates a callous, bullying mindset. There are no tactics too underhanded for the company to use to try to avoid paying reasonable compensation to these cancer victims.
The talc “settlement” being touted by J&J and the media is NOT a settlement. It is an illusory proposal for a bankruptcy plan, yet another attempt by J&J to misuse the bankruptcy system. All 14 members of the plaintiffs’ steering committee reject this proposal.
In fact, the terms are considerably worse than a proposal that we and other firms representing ovarian cancer victims rejected last June, at a time when it appeared that all plaintiffs could be stuck in bankruptcy court for years. Since then, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set aside J&J’s bankruptcy and our negotiating position significantly improved.The settlement that J&J is now trying to impose on plaintiffs, with the aid of a small number of firms handling talc cases, includes:
- all current and future ovarian cancer victims
- all current and future mesothelioma victims
- all attorney general actions for all states, and
- all other talc-related claims, including claims by medical cost insurers against J&J.
While J&J’s proposed $8.9 billion offer sounds like a lot of money, it is not enough when you consider the terms of the proposal. This settlement proposal would pay far less than $120,000 per case, if that.The costs of medical care and lost wages alone for ovarian cancer victims approach $500,000. That does not address the pain and suffering nor punitive damages those women and their families have suffered by J&J’s massive and deliberate cover-up of the dangers of its asbestos-laden talc products.
Rest assured, we are vigorously opposing this deal and will continue fighting to get fair compensation for clients. And through a remarkable team effort, we are confident that this ploy by J&J to unfairly force a bad deal will be rebuffed, and we will be able to negotiate a fair one for clients. Alternatively, we will get this second bankruptcy thrown out, just as we did the first, so that we can present clients’ cases before juries again soon.