A California judge told a jury hearing testimony in the latest case to go to trial alleging a link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and a woman’s mesothelioma diagnosis that J&J’s talc supplier was no longer a defendant in the case, and that they should not speculate as to why.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman made the announcement a day after Paris-based Imerys SA reported that three of its subsidiaries had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – including Imerys Talc America, which was named in the case – citing the more than 14,600 lawsuits the company faced in the U.S. The filing enables the company to establish a trust to cover current and future litigation, and allows the company to pressure those suing it to take lower settlements.
“After carefully evaluating all possible options, we determined pursuing Chapter 11 protection is the best course of action to address our historic talc-related liabilities and position the companies for continued growth,” said Giorgio La Motta, Imerys Talc America’s president, in a statement. The company has already shelled out up to $100 million to defend itself against lawsuits that allege its talc contained asbestos that contributed to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
After Judge Seligman made the announcement, there was no future mentions of Imerys during the trial in a case brought by Teresa E. Leavitt, who claims that her regular use of Johnson & Johnson’s products Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder caused her terminal mesothelioma diagnosis.