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Johnson & Johnson reaches $700M talc settlement

Baby powder on store shelves

Johnson & Johnson has reached a $700 million settlement with 42 states and the District of Columbia over the marketing of its talc-based products, including baby powder.

Consent judgments in the cases were filed on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The agreement was announced in January and, despite this week’s filing, still has to be approved by a judge.

The case alleged that the company misled consumers by saying that talc-based products were safe. Instead, according to the claims against the company, they caused cancer.

Johnson & Johnson did not admit to doing anything wrong and continues to say its products are safe and do not cause cancer.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This is a major advancement for consumer product safety,” Reuters reported. Florida, North Carolina and Texas were the primary states filing complaints against the company.

“Consumers rely on accurate information when making decisions about which products to purchase for their families,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said, according to CBS News. “Any company — no matter how large — must be held accountable when laws protecting consumers are broken and their trust is violated.”

Despite the $700 million settlement with the states, there are still thousands of lawsuits filed against Johnson and Johnson, the majority filed by women who have ovarian cancer. There are also some suits filed by people with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. Johnson & Johnson denies asbestos was in its products.

CBS News reported that more than 50,000 claims have been filed.

An Oregon jury awarded a woman $260 million in a suit that claimed J&J’s baby powder caused her cancer in 2024. An Illinois woman’s family was awarded $45 million in a separate case. The woman died from mesothelioma.

The company offered to pay $6.5 billion to settle the lawsuits, CBS News reported.

J&J is also a defendant in a class action lawsuit that claimed that the company committed fraud by hiding the dangers of talc from shareholders, Reuters reported.

Johnson & Johnson switched from talc baby powder to one made with cornstarch last year. It also split off the consumer-health portion of the company into a new one called Kenvue, which sells the cornstarch-based powder, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Johnson & Johnson has filed for bankruptcy protection twice over the legal issues and plans to file for a third time to help resolve the liabilities from the cases, the newspaper reported.

“Consistent with the plan we outlined last year, the Company continues to pursue several paths to achieve a comprehensive and final resolution of the talc litigation,” J&J’s Worldwide Vice President of Litigation Erik Haas told Reuters. “We will continue to address the claims of those who do not want to participate in our contemplated consensual bankruptcy resolution through litigation or settlement.”

J&J will make four settlement payments to pay off the $700 million starting at the end of July, CBS News reported.

Ohio is one of the states that will receive money from the settlement. Attorney General Dave Yost confirmed the state will receive $27.7 million.

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