Maloney, Senate and House Dems: Will Johnson & Johnson Continue to Avoid Accountability to Cancer Victims?
WASHINGTON – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, and Richard Blumenthal today sent a letter to the incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Johnson & Johnson objecting to the company’s efforts to manipulate bankruptcy laws to evade accountability for harm caused by its products. In their letter to Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee Joaquin Duato, the members ask if Duato, as incoming CEO, will continue the company’s current efforts to avoid accountability to cancer victims, or if he plans to reverse course.
“In our view, the approximately 38,000 claimants who argue that their cancers were caused by asbestos in your company’s product deserve to have their cases fairly considered,” Chairwoman Maloney and the members wrote.
On November 10, the Senators and Representatives wrote to now-outgoing CEO Alex Gorsky requesting information to help explain why Johnson & Johnson is seeking to deny claimants that chance. In a reply received on December 1, Johnson & Johnson’s outside counsel provided inadequate information and restated the dubious claim that the company’s convoluted corporate maneuvering will “provide significant benefits to the claimants.”
“Having offloaded all talc liabilities onto a shell company, Johnson & Johnson is now arguing in bankruptcy court that it should be shielded from all relevant claims. Should Johnson & Johnson be successful, cancer victim claimants will be forced to seek restitution from the shell company alone and will likely receive pennies on the dollar, if anything at all,” Chairwoman Maloney and the members continued.
Chairwoman Maloney and the members concluded, “We write today to inquire if you, as incoming CEO, will continue Johnson & Johnson’s current efforts to avoid accountability to cancer victims, or if you will reverse course. Your response will help inform the direction of our oversight and legislative response to this important issue.”
In July, the members introduced the Nondebtor Release Prohibition Act of 2021, which would rein in various bankruptcy loopholes that corporations and bad actors such as the Sackler family and Johnson & Johnson exploit to dodge accountability, including the ‘Texas two-step’ maneuver.
The full text of the letter is available here.