On February 13, Imerys Talc America, a major talc supplier for Johnson
filed for bankruptcy protection amid mounting lawsuits claiming exposure to
its talc causes mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Imerys is routinely named
as a co-defendant alongside cosmetic giant, Johnson & Johnson.
argues it “lacks the financial clout” to defend the nearly 15,000
lawsuits the company faces in U.S. courts.
Both Imerys and J&J have repeatedly denied allegations their talc causes
cancer but the fallout from the widely publicized and damaging Reuters
As Imerys works through the Chapter 11 process, what can current, and future
claimants anticipate? According to one bankruptcy expert in
Bloomberg: “The filing will allow the subsidiaries to set aside what they
consider to be a “meaningful amount” to resolve all current
suits and any future claims. After reviewing the units’ cash flow
and profitability projections, the bankruptcy judge will decide if that’s
sufficient to resolve the cases while allowing the miner to operate profitably
in the future.”
Imerys is just the latest company to file for bankruptcy protection against
asbestos claims since Johns-Manville became the first in 1982. Plaintiffs
will undoubtedly view the move as an example of a corporation skirting
accountability in the courts while continuing to operate their business.
Imerys says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in 2020.