Johnson & Johnson wants a federal judge to take over more than 2,000 baby-powder lawsuits it faces instead of allowing the cases to be heard by state-court juries, where the company has a mixed record.
The world’s largest maker of health-care products seeks to invoke legal protections available to J&J’s bankrupt talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. to collect suits accusing its baby powder of causing asbestos-related cancers before a single judge in Delaware. Imerys sought Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy court there in February after being swamped by talc suits.
Because it hasn’t filed for bankruptcy protection, J&J would normally not be entitled to demand state-court litigation be halted or transferred to a federal court. But a special bankruptcy law provision allows Imerys creditors with significant financial ties to the talc miner to make the request to promote “expeditious resolution of claims,” according to Thursday’s filing.
“Because the claims raise common questions of fact, law, and science, the current nationwide” round of pre-trial information exchanges “is duplicative, unpredictable, and wasteful,” J&J said in court papers.