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J&J Supplier Imerys Files for Bankruptcy Protection Amid Talc Lawsuits

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On February 13, Imerys Talc America, a major talc supplier for Johnson & 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.

Imerys 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 report continues.

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.