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Women suing J&J speak out after company’s failed legal maneuver

  • March 7, 2023

In the long legal fight over allegations that talc in Johnson & Johnson baby powder is linked to ovarian cancer, plaintiffs got an incremental victory on Monday: A federal appeals court rejected J&J’s effort to move more than 38,000 lawsuits to bankruptcy court.

Plaintiff Deborah Smith’s case was held up for 15 months because of the attempted maneuver, a legal strategy colloquially known as the Texas Two-Step. J&J’s approach relied on the creation of a subsidiary called LTL Management that could take on the liability for talc-related legal claims. Within days of its creation in 2021, LTL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

By that time, more than two years had passed since Smith filed her suit. The news of the Two-Step, she said, felt like “a slap in the face.”

“If that was someone in their family, would they drag it out like that?” Smith said. “It’s almost like they’re playing a waiting game to see how many people will just die or just give up fighting.”

Smith was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, she said, after her doctor discovered a tumor during a procedure to remove a uterine fibroid. She had two surgeries and three cycles of chemotherapy, she added, leading her hair to fall out in bunches. It never grew back properly, so Smith said she still wears wigs.

According to Smith’s suit, she used J&J’s baby powder as a feminine hygiene product to absorb sweat and keep her skin dry for more than 15 years. The suit says Smith also used Shower to Shower, a talc-based product formerly manufactured by J&J, until 2003. 

Smith’s lawsuit cites more than 25 published studies dating back to 1982 that evaluate a link between talc and ovarian cancer risk. The suit alleges that nearly all those studies document a

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