The federal bankruptcy judge in charge of Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy proceedings has ordered the parties into settlement negotiations to resolve claims that the corporation’s talc products, particularly its shower-to-shower products, were contaminated with asbestos. Over 40,000 plaintiffs have claimed that J&J products caused them to develop ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other severe health effects.

J&J has faced a number of verdicts favoring plaintiffs returning millions of dollars in damages. After a string of losses, J&J split off its talc liability into the subsidiary LTL Management and plunged it into bankruptcy proceedings in an alleged effort to defeat plaintiffs’ attempts to claim compensation. That first bid for bankruptcy failed on appeal to the Third Circuit, and plaintiffs believed that they would again be able to pursue their case against Johnson & Johnson. 

Rather than face these lawsuits, J&J has made a second attempt to plunge LTL into bankruptcy, this time with an $8.9 billion settlement. While the bankruptcy court considers whether to reject this controversial renewed effort, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael B. Kaplan has ordered J&J and the plaintiffs into mediation to attempt to reach a settlement. 

Judge Kaplan’s May 8 order nominates two co-mediators to preside over and set protocol for the proceedings. Under the mandate, Judge Kaplan requires all parties to “make a good faith attempt to settle the Mediation Issues.” This includes making “reasonable efforts” to attend all sessions scheduled by the co-mediators and cooperating with co-mediators. 

The co-mediators will be ordered to file periodic status reports on the progress of the mediation procedure, but these reports will be sealed so that only the relevant parties will be able to see them. By sealing them, these reports will be unlikely to disclose any confidential information about the settlement terms or proposals before they are ready to be disclosed to the public.

If you have suffered an injury because of contaminated talc products, you may be entitled to compensation. File a free case report to see if you qualify.