Johnson & Johnson’s Talc Saga: Legal Battles Over Bankruptcy and Allegations of Fraud

Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a healthcare conglomerate with a century-long reputation, is embroiled in a legal quagmire over its talc products. Accusations that its talc contained asbestos, leading to cancer, have resulted in a flurry of lawsuits and controversial bankruptcy maneuvers. Recently, a group of cancer victims escalated the conflict by filing a class action lawsuit in New Jersey federal court, alleging fraudulent use of bankruptcy to shield assets and avoid compensating victims.

The Core Allegations

The plaintiffs, representing over 50,000 individuals, claim that J&J has employed deceitful tactics, including the “Texas two-step” bankruptcy strategy. This maneuver involved creating a subsidiary to absorb the talc liabilities and then filing for bankruptcy, effectively halting litigation against the parent company. The plaintiffs argue that this strategy was designed to “hinder, delay, and defraud” victims, preventing them from obtaining justice and compensation.

J&J’s Defense

J&J has steadfastly maintained that its talc products are safe, claiming they are asbestos-free and do not cause cancer. Erik Haas, the company’s worldwide vice president of litigation, characterized the lawsuit as a desperate move by plaintiffs’ lawyers aimed at obstructing the company’s proposed $6.48 billion settlement plan, which is currently awaiting approval from claimants through a vote.

The Legal and Financial Maneuvering

The legal battles began in 2021 when J&J first utilized the “Texas two-step” to place its talc liabilities into a newly formed subsidiary, LTL Management, which then filed for bankruptcy. This move initially succeeded in pausing litigation, but subsequent court rulings deemed J&J and its subsidiary ineligible for bankruptcy due to lack of financial distress. Despite these setbacks, J&J is preparing for a third bankruptcy attempt, backed by a revised settlement plan that purportedly has the support of over 75% of claimants.

Recent Developments

J&J is accused of fraudulent conveyance in the May 22, 2024, complaint, alleging that it transferred assets to subsidiaries to avoid accountability. This includes the spinoff of its consumer health division, Kenvue, and modifications to funding arrangements that the plaintiffs contend were made to lower the amount of money available to settle talc-related lawsuits. The lawsuit demands a finding that J&J’s conduct was dishonest, as well as both compensatory and punitive damages.

Broader Implications

This legal saga has far-reaching implications both for J&J and the broader legal landscape of corporate liability and bankruptcy. Critics argue that J&J’s use of bankruptcy to manage litigation liabilities sets a dangerous precedent, potentially allowing other corporations to evade responsibility for harmful products. The case has drawn attention to the limits and potential abuses of bankruptcy law, particularly the controversial “Texas two-step.”

Financial Impact on J&J

The ongoing litigation has taken a toll on J&J’s financial standing and stock performance. Analysts, such as those from JPMorgan Chase & Co., have noted the negative impact on the company’s valuation, reflecting investor concerns over the unresolved legal risks and potential liabilities.


As J&J navigates this complex and high-stakes legal landscape, the outcome of these lawsuits will be pivotal. Not only will it determine the compensation for thousands of cancer victims, but it will also influence future corporate strategies for managing mass tort liabilities. The next steps in the legal process, particularly the vote on the proposed settlement and the court’s response to the latest bankruptcy filing will be critical in shaping the resolution of this protracted dispute.

Johnson & Johnson Short (Sell)
Enter At: 150.62
T.P_1: 147.46
T.P_2: 144.90
T.P_3: 141.33
T.P_4: 138.23
T.P_5: 134.32
T.P_6: 129.73
T.P_7: 126.51
T.P_8: 121.45
T.P_9: 118.23
T.P_10: 113.70
T.P_11: 109.41
S.L: 176.10

Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
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