J&J Talc Claimants Say Company Is Hindering Case Investigation
(Bloomberg) -- A lawyer for claimants suing Johnson & Johnson over its baby powder wants a bankruptcy judge to force the pharma giant to produce requested information, saying it’s hindering efforts to investigate the case.
“There has been what appears to be a concerted effort to obstruct, limit and delay discovery,” in the case, Michael S. Winograd, co-counsel to two official claimants’ committees, wrote in a Dec. 28 letter. A Dec. 23 response from J&J saying it wouldn’t fulfill the requests “has necessitated a forthcoming motion to compel,” wrote Winograd, a partner at Brown Rudnick.
J&J spun its talc liabilities into a separate unit, LTL Management LLC, and put the unit into bankruptcy Oct. 14, adding to the complexity of the case and sparking controversy because it’s a profitable company. It’s facing 38,000 lawsuits charging that its talc products caused cancer and has pushed to create a trust to pay victims.
Winograd said the original claimant committee emailed information requests to J&J counsel on Dec. 16. After “radio silence for four days,” J&J said it wouldn’t accept requests about future claims for LTL.
Representatives for J&J didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Jan. 11 hearing scheduled to consider LTL’s proposed appointment of Joseph W. Grier III as legal representative for future talc claimants should be delayed, the letter said.
“For a number of reasons, including circumstances that have arisen during discovery over the past week, the current schedule has become untenable,” Winograd wrote. At the very least, he said, consideration of future claims should be postponed until after a decision on whether to dismiss the case is rendered.
The case is LTL Management LLC, 21-30589, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey.
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