Judge Kaplan Defers Ovarian Cancer Plaintiff's Appeal To Federal Bankruptcy Court
The judge's decision will further delay justice for 40,000 women with ovarian cancer from allegedly using Johnson's Baby Powder and those who have died
Friday, April 1, 2022 - Federal bankruptcy judge Michael Kaplan has asked the federal appeals court to decide whether to confirm or overturn his recent decision to allow Johnson & Johnson to place its talcum powder cancer legal liabilities into a shell company and then declare it bankrupt under Chapter 11. The decision will delay further the talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits that are underway, and the 38,000 that are awaiting a trial date. Lawsuits against the baby powder manufacturer allege that using Johnson's Baby Powder caused the plaintiffs to develop talcum powder cancer, a death sentence for all but 5% of those diagnosed with the disease. Plaintiff lawyers, legal scholars, and women with ovarian cancer had filed an appeal to the judge's ruling. The judge allowed LTL management, the spin-off company created by Johnson & Johnson, to remain in bankruptcy for at least as long as it takes for the federal appeals court to decide. Johnson & Johnson is currently attempting to settle the cases for pennies on the dollar without having to try each one individually and without further damaging their reputation. Judge Kaplan has asked that the appeals court convene as soon as possible and render a decision.
Federal lawmakers have expressed the belief that Johnson & Johnson's Texas Two-Step maneuver is an abuse of the intent of the laws for which bankruptcy was founded. Bankruptcy was intended to be a way for struggling companies to pay their creditors while remaining in business to get out from under their debts and get a fresh start. The controversial bankruptcy scheme was intended to help Texas-based companies and the Johnson & Johnson out-of-state filing was to exploit the loopholes in the Texas law. Johnson & Johnson is a Delaware corporation with headquarters in New Jersey. The original talcum powder bankruptcy was filed in North Carolina to take advantage of a bankruptcy judge with Texas Two-Step experience. The North Carolina judge transferred the case to the New Jersey bankruptcy court where the cases against them are organized into multi district litigation (MDL). The Wall Street Journal weighed in on how lawmakers intended to fight on behalf of the 40,000 women with baby powder cancer that have registered to file talcum powder cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. "Lawmakers and government officials are targeting efforts by some companies to use chapter 11 in ways that they say the bankruptcy code never intended. The U.S. bankruptcy system is facing a backlash from all three branches of the federal government as big companies and wealthy individuals push the limits of chapter 11 to relieve themselves of legal and financial liabilities." A US Senator Calls Johnson & Johnson's legal maneuver a "bankruptcy trick to shirk responsibility for hurting and sometimes killing their customers," according to the WSJ.
Time is of the essence for the federal appeals court to come to a decision. Women with ovarian cancer have little time to wait for their day in court. Ovarian cancer is seldom diagnosed early as the symptoms are masked by the pain and discomfort women experience during menstruation every month. The long-term survival rate for women with ovarian cancer is less than 5%.