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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper
Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 07, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROWN: To the legal drama continues to unfold. And I asked her, Jim, whether she's ever used a talc-based baby powder or whether she would, you'll hear her answer coming up shortly.
ACOSTA: All right, we'll be watching. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
And don't go anywhere, the new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" is next right here on CNN. Stay tuned for that.
And reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks so much for watching and joining me this evening. I'll see you here next weekend. "THE WHOLE STORY" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Coming up --
GINA POWLESS-BUENROSTRO, DIAGNOSED IN 2019: I was loyal to that product.
COOPER: On THE WHOLE STORY.
LARA FAHNLANDER, DIAGNOSED IN 2021: I blame Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
ALLISON BROWN, OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR JOHNSON & JOHNSON: We have never confirmed a finding of asbestos in any product that has been sold.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Do you consider it an abuse of bankruptcy law?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I do.
P. BROWN: What Johnson & Johnson did?
DURBIN: I definitely do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on-camera): Welcome to THE WHOLE STORY. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, CNN chief investigative correspondent Pamela Brown brings us the story of three women in legal battles with one of the largest health care companies in the world over a commonly used household item they say is responsible for causing their cancers.
That product is Johnson & Johnson talcum baby powder. For more than a century, the name Johnson & Johnson was synonymous with baby powder. The lawsuit from these women claimed the powder contained asbestos, and these are just three out of tens of thousands in lawsuits Johnson & Johnson is facing over this product which was discontinued in the U.S. and Canada in 2020. And Johnson & Johnson staunchly denies these claims and you'll hear from them directly in this hour about their methodology and their science.
Pamela Brown will also show just how this corporation is protecting its brand and how it could become a road map for other corporations facing mass litigation.
"Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial."
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: Anyone tells you you have cancer, I don't care who you are, you're in shock. When the doctor came out to give me the results, this really blindsided me. You have ovarian cancer. Like what? You know, in my mind, I was trying to connect dots like, how could I have gotten this? Like, you know, cancer just don't automatically just pop up. Cancer didn't run in my family. And I remember that I heard this commercial or whatever it was. And it was saying, do you have ovarian cancer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a legal alert for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. If you or someone you loved used Johnson & Johnson baby powder products --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call for your free legal consultation.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: It talked about using baby powder. If you ever used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, you might want to call this number. And I was thinking, oh, my god. Like I grew up on Johnson & Johnson. I was loyal to that product. I trusted that it would never bring me harm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnson & Johnson, the most trusted name in surgical dressing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pure, gentle Johnson's Baby Powder at a baby price.
P. BROWN (on-camera): When you think of America, one of the key institutions that comes to mind is Johnson & Johnson. It is interwoven in our daily lives.
SUSAN BERFIELD, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Johnson & Johnson has always hoped and presented itself as a company that, you know, cares for your family and that puts your family's safety first.
P. BROWN: It is extremely profitable. Worth more than $400 billion.
TIFFANY HSU, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There's multiple locations around the world. A huge range of products. BERFIELD: There's Tylenol and Motrin, Band-Aid, of course, Aveeno,
Neutrogena. Products that you would use in your home and for your family.
P. BROWN: But it's much bigger than that. I mean, it has an entire division devoted to medical devices. It has a pharmaceutical division. In fact, it created a COVID-19 vaccine.
HSU: The story actually starts, though, in 1881. Robert Wood Johnson is watching his two older brothers go off to fight in the civil war. Many people are dying from injuries that probably could be treated. So he starts developing interest in health care. In 1886, he starts Johnson & Johnson with his brothers.
BERFIELD: Originally, they sold like the precursor to Band-Aid. And they started hearing from customers that while the adhesive worked, it also could be irritating in some way. And so a scientist at the company started to send people talc, which is, you know, a very soft mineral that can be soothing on the skin. And then Johnson & Johnson was like, we see an opportunity here.
HSU: Johnson & Johnson starts producing Johnson's Baby Powder in 1894.
It quickly becomes one of their most iconic products. It kicks off an enormous business for Johnson & Johnson.
P. BROWN: It was all over the place. I mean, you saw it in cartoons. You saw it on television shows.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A talcum powder is not to play with.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: That was me. That was all my family. Growing up, my mother used Johnson & Johnson baby powder on all of her children, which is me included.
How did you ever get turned on to Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder?
DOROTHY NINHAM, GINA'S MOTHER: Probably from the hospitals. When you have a baby at the hospital, they usually give you like a package and there's baby powder in it. Baby powder and baby oil and baby wash.
GEOGIA POWLESS, GINA'S SISTER: Yes.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: Like samples and stuff?
NINHAM: So you're thinking that the hospital trusts this. You know, there must not be anything wrong with it, and you use it.
HSU: You would think it was created for babies, but Johnson & Johnson keeps looking for new market segments for this product. And so they start looking to adult women. And it's evident in a lot of the advertising that you see for baby powder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look like a squirrel. Who am I?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea, but you'll feel a lot better if you just use some baby powder.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: If I had plans to go out that night or whatever, you know, that would always be part of the routine, just to feel clean, to feel fresh, to feel dry. And then as a young adult, when I started having my own children, I would always buy me Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, whether it was a little bottle or, you know, the big bottle, I always had it. It just was that comfort, that trust.
P. BROWN: But then these allegations started coming out that that baby powder contained asbestos.
HSU: We know that asbestos is a carcinogen. It has these tiny dagger- like fibers that penetrate very deeply into human tissue.
P. BROWN: But Johnson & Johnson says flat out there is no asbestos in its baby powder and that its baby powder does not cause cancer.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: When I was notified that I had cancer, I just thought how weird is this? And I spoke to a paralegal. They had the testing done on the tissues of my cancer. And it came back positive for asbestos. I was like, oh, my god. Like, it's there. That connected me.
I use that product all my life since an infant. And it just blew me away. It was astounding, like I just felt so violated. Like how dare you.
ELIF DOGANALP, DIAGNOSED IN 2011: Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was very well known in Turkey when I was little. And at the time, the American brands were very trusted and considered as the best products that you can use because Americans would not put anything on the shelves that would harm their children and their people.
My baby powder usage started very early on. It was a very important part of my dancing routine. Every class, every recital, I used baby powder heavily. A lot of dancers use baby powder. It's for putting on the ground and making sure that our soles are slippery and we can turn easily.
I really was in love with dance. And then cancer hit and dancing is done. I got diagnosed with mesothelioma when I was 40 years old. Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer. It's outside of your internal organs, and the way I was diagnosed was more of a coincidence. I had an inguinal hernia and I wanted to have a surgery. My surgeon saw the tumors on my abdominal wall.
The tumors were so small, they don't grow in size. They grow in numbers. And then it was almost creating a wall on top of my abdominal wall. If I hadn't had surgery, I would have died in three months. It was going that fast.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos and I had no exposure to asbestos other than the baby powder of Johnson & Johnson. And I was in disbelief that it was happening to me because of J&J. And I wanted to sue them.
JEROME BLOCK, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFFS: I have been working on talc powder cases involving Johnson & Johnson since late 2016. There are tens of thousands of people who have cases pending. At the core of these lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson is the allegation that there was asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder.
What we hear from Johnson & Johnson's corporate representatives is similar to what we hear in Johnson & Johnson's public statements. And they have testified to juries there was never asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder.
Elif's case was filed back in 2017. She gave days of deposition testimony.
DOGANALP: The first deposition, I was in the hospital, just came out of ICU.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling today?
DOGANALP: Quite tired, frustrated, and sick.
It was hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back on the record at 14:19.
DOGANALP: And there were a room full of lawyers. It was nerve-racking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you were using the baby powder for dance, did you ever use any generic powders?
DOGANALP: No. Johnson & Johnson was my go-to brand.
They were asking questions in a way that, like, trying to find other reasons for mesothelioma, for asbestos exposure, whatnot. And they came in again into my house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For that remaining period where you were not performing, were you in the back area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And is that the same area where the powder had been applied to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the other girls as well?
DOGANALP: Yes. That was the most fun area. We used to just put the powder in each other's faces and play around and wait for our turns.
I had nothing to hide. All I did was to trust a brand and use it. That was it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all the questions I have.
DOGANALP: Thank you.
BLOCK: Johnson's Baby Powder is talc and a fragrance.
BERFIELD: Talc is a mineral, and in the places that it's mined, there's often asbestos alongside it. And so, you know, it's not that anyone is putting asbestos into the talc. It's that it can be there in very small amounts.
HSU: The question is whether or not Johnson & Johnson knew that its products might have contained asbestos and should have warned consumers of the risk.
BLOCK: And once we got the J&J documents, it really blew the roof off the whole situation. The documents show that the company knew that there was asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder going back to the 1950s. And specifically, there was some testing done by a group called Battelle, and we have one document showing in 1958 that Battelle found in Johnson's Baby Powder tremolite, and we have Battelle describing the tremolite fibrous, which is asbestos.
Here's a document, April 15th, 1969, Johnson & Johnson is talking about the dangers of needle-like Tremolite, and it says that we should consult the law department on that question.
P. BROWN: So, I mean, Johnson & Johnson is at the center of this, and so it is essential to hear from this lawyer who has been defending Johnson & Johnson in court.
A. BROWN: The first thing that is most important for me that people know about these cases is that they are doing an enormous disservice to a very important issue of women's health. What we can say with 100 percent certainty is that we have never confirmed a finding of asbestos in any product that has been sold, and that decades of scientific testing and study have shown that our talc is safe and does not cause cancer.
P. BROWN: So one of the plaintiff's attorneys that we interviewed brought up this document. This is from the Battelle Memorial Institute. I want to hand this to you and get your reaction.
A. BROWN: So there are a number of these Battelle reports, and plaintiffs often point to these findings of tremolite in an effort to suggest that they mean asbestos. But we only have to look at Battelle's published scientific articles to know that these reports do not show asbestos. P. BROWN: I want to show you this other document that I read. It says,
quote, "It is not inconceivable that we could be involved in litigation."
A. BROWN: This is another document that plaintiffs like to use in litigation. I think it shows an important point of how Johnson & Johnson was carefully studying and selecting its mines.
The subject is "Alternate Domestic Talc Source Project 101." Project 101 was our effort to qualify new talc mines, and this document refers to the Grantham talc mine, which is a talc mine that we never wound up using.
HSU: There really is a mountain of material that you could pull conclusions from. Juries certainly are confronted with quite a lot of science in these cases.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, where did you get this asbestos from that's in these pictures?
ALICE BLOUNT, GEOLOGIST: From Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
HSU: The plaintiffs' attorneys are calling experts that often will say there has been evidence of asbestos found in samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been thinking of reasonable scientific uncertainty as to whether the talc in those mines contained asbestos.
WILLIAM LONGO, LABORATORY SCIENTIST: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your opinion?
LONGO: That it does.
P. BROWN: So bottom line, you're saying all those experts, they're all wrong?
A. BROWN: Well, we know from real scientific evidence outside of the courtroom that Johnson's Baby Powder does not cause cancer and does not contain asbestos.
So we have to question the opinions that are being given inside the courtroom that are inconsistent with the data.
P. BROWN: So of the cases that have actually gone to trial, how many have Johnson & Johnson won?
A. BROWN: Over the course of 10 years, 38 of them actually made it to a verdict. And of those, Johnson & Johnson either in front of a jury or on appeal won the overwhelming majority of them. BERFIELD: But when juries have decided in favor of the plaintiffs or
the women, the amount of money that they have awarded them has been pretty substantial.
HSU: There's a 2018 verdict, and this was a massive win for plaintiffs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A record $4.7 billion jury award to 22 women and their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the biggest single verdict in such a case so far.
P. BROWN: Then the FDA comes out and says, it tested two lots of Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder and it found in one sample a positive test for asbestos.
BLOCK: This is what the FDA found. Microscopic fibers of asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder.
HSU: Johnson & Johnson at this point immediately recalls 33,000 bottles of the product. But they cast doubt on the FDA's mode of research.
P. BROWN: J&J has disputed those results. Why?
A. BROWN: Johnson & Johnson did 155 additional tests both on the bottle, on the retained lots, on the lot that came before, on the lot that came after. And was able to conclude with statistical certainty that that finding was not a finding from the actual bottle but was a result of contamination.
BLOCK: Johnson & Johnson claims that somehow, there was floating asbestos fibers that were just floating around the laboratory and that those fibers landed in the Johnson's Baby Powder but somehow avoided the laboratory blanks that showed now asbestos.
P. BROWN: So you're saying the FDA was wrong?
A. BROWN: We dispute the FDA's findings based on 155 tests that show that sample was contaminated.
BLOCK: After Elif had committed so much to the case, so much of her time, so much of her energy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK to continue?
BLOCK: When the case was just getting to the point to come up for trial, J&J just exited the jury system and went over to bankruptcy, and stopped her case.
DOGANALP: I'm still in disbelief. This is crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going off the record at 14:49.
P. BROWN: Johnson & Johnson is facing around 40,000 allegations of people saying that its talc-based baby powder caused their cancer. This is not even an exhaustive list. This is just an example of one case list. And so what they say is, look, this is a solution. We filed for bankruptcy through this Texas two-step maneuver.
HSU: So in October of 2021, Johnson & Johnson executes what is known as the Texas two-step. Johnson & Johnson took its consumer products business and merged it with a newly created entity in Texas. It then immediately split that entity in two. One of the segments, which is now known as LTL management, LLC, was left holding all the liabilities of the talc lawsuits. LTL immediately filed for bankruptcy in North Carolina.
Johnson & Johnson set aside something like $2 billion for LTL to use to potentially pay out plaintiffs in addition with access to some other funding. Plaintiffs' lawyers say that plaintiffs are likely going to have a smaller pot from which to be paid out from.
P. BROWN: There was this so-called Texas two-step. Was that just a way for Johnson & Johnson to avoid another multi-billion-dollar payout?
A. BROWN: Absolutely not. So with the history of trying to resolve this litigation in the court system showed us is that it hasn't been fair to plaintiffs and it hasn't been fair to Johnson & Johnson. Over 10 years with 40,000 cases pending, only two plaintiff verdicts have ever been paid. So I think the important takeaway from that was that we needed to find a way to resolve this litigation for all current claimants and all future claimants.
BLOCK: After filing the bankruptcy, the first thing that was done by this new company was to go to the bankruptcy court and say you need to stop all the cases against Johnson & Johnson. This prevents all of the existing cases from going forward. It also prevents any new cases from being filed against the company.
DURBIN: There's a justice system for rich people, powerful for corporations, and then there's a justice system for everybody else.
When Johnson & Johnson filed this case in bankruptcy court, it really meant that thousands of victims had no place to turn.
P. BROWN: Do you consider it an abuse of bankruptcy law, what Johnson & Johnson did?
DURBIN: I definitely do. They're going to send a clear message, the courts do, to corporate America that you can't escape your liability by some phony bankruptcy filing.
HSU: Even the American Bar Association refers to this as a controversial tactic.
BLOCK: And if Johnson & Johnson can use the bankruptcy system to get out of these cases, then anyone can do it. The stakes couldn't be higher.
DOGANALP: Hi, Jerry.
BLOCK: Hey. Just wanted to give you an update on where things stand with the case.
DOGANALP: Please. Yes, thank you.
BLOCK: All right. The last time we spoke, we were talking about the Third Circuit.
BLOCK: So that's the court one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. And we have asked them to dismiss the bankruptcy on the grounds that it was not filed in good faith and that there is no valid bankruptcy purpose.
DOGANALP: It's been five years since we filed my case. What if I didn't make it, you know?
BLOCK: Yes. It's very frustrating to wait. And all I can tell you is that we just don't know when the Third Circuit is going to issue its decision.
DOGANALP: I'll be, you know, sitting by my phone waiting.
BLOCK: All right. Thank you so much.
DOGANALP: Thank you.
BLOCK: So good to see you.
DOGANALP: It's just heartbreaking, OK. And this is human life. Come on. What is the justice system here for? This is like mind-boggling to me, and frustrating to no end. I'm infuriatingly that you just like, we're looking for justice, and you know it can be done. And it's not being done.
FAHNLANDER: We cannot be a society that allows companies to throw up their hands when it's convenient and say, oh, I'm not going to do that. You know, I don't get to stop my medical experience or my bills because that would be more convenient.
I think we're going to just start setting up. I mean, I want to clear that table.
I mean, this whole last year has just been a series of black holes and pitfalls. It started in spring and summer. I was starting to feel like I wanted
to have kids. So I saw a doctor, and she told me, yes, we should do your follicle count, and the next day, I got the results. It just said, yes, your count is fine, but you have malignant masses.
So that's us leaving Sloan Kettering.
And then this is it healing up. And then chemotherapy. I mean, you get a mesothelioma diagnosis, right, and you don't understand how would I have asbestos. Everywhere that I have gone, I have always had some Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. I just never imagined that something that you would use on babies was unsafe.
On December 11th, we had a one-year survival celebration since my diagnosis. A fellow victim of mesothelioma, he said to me, a lot of people don't make it one year. So we should really celebrate.
I challenged people to guess what would be one word to describe this year. Somebody says advocated. Optimistic. Support. YOLO. Confusing. None of those are my word.
My one word that kind of fills both like the extreme highs and the extreme lows of this diagnosis is unbelievable. It has just been for me an unbelievable year in every regard.
It's unbelievable to me that I have been torn from my previous existence and just plopped into the abyss. I just -- I blame Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for my mesothelioma, for my terminal diagnosis. For everything that I have had to go through.
A. BROWN: Cancer has touched almost everyone's family, and it is an absolutely horrible disease that impacts not only women but women's families. And certainly Johnson & Johnson sympathizes with that. But what I would say is that the science shows that their disease was caused by something else.
The diseases that plaintiffs claim in this litigation that Johnson's Baby Powder causes are some of the most rare diseases, mesothelioma, and ovarian cancer. But if Johnson's Baby Powder really had asbestos and really caused these diseases because so many people used it, there would be an epidemic of these cancers. And thankfully there is not.
FAHNLANDER: I can't understand, like, I can't understand -- I can't understand anybody, like, I know it's a corporation, but there are real people that make those decisions. And like, I can't understand anybody putting, like, profit over like human lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): This is the good road. This is the good road. POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: That day I walked into the hospital, I felt like
that was the day I started slipping into that black hole. I just wanted the cancer gone. Part of the healing process was chemotherapy. I didn't know how dangerous and how harmful chemo can be to the human body. It takes everything bad that's out of your body, but also took all the good stuff away, too. All the things that make me me.
My daughter said, mom, you're acting so unhappy all the time. I said I can't help it. I'm on all these meds. I don't want to be unhappy. It was taking everything, the love that I have for my family, the love that I have for my children, the love that I have for my grandchildren. It was just erasing that.
And I felt like, why am I relying on this? So I remember my mom, I was talking to her. And I said I don't want to do this chemo anymore. And I let my family bring me right back into all our ceremonies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Creator have pity on me. This is the good road. This is the good road.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: My family, my children, we're all enrolled in the Oneida Tribe. One of the ceremonies that my family would have for me are sweat lodges. You're not allowed to walk in it. You have to crawl into it. You're connecting with our mother the earth. Once they close the doors, that steam that comes from the rocks, that's considered the breath of the creator.
NINHAM: They're saying an opening prayer in there. Giving thanks to everything, all of creation. And opening it up for the spirits to come in.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: The prayers and the ceremonies and everything that my family did to support me, they made it easier. I was back part of the environment, like it felt like a rebirth.
I just started feeling slowly but surely I was coming back to life.
P. BROWN: So we're on our way right now to interview Scott Faber with the Environmental Working Group. And they are a nonprofit advocacy group focused on environmental health.
I know you've testified to Congress about this many times.
SCOTT FABER, ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP: Yes.
P. BROWN: So baby powder is considered a cosmetic.
P. BROWN: The FDA does not regulate cosmetics before they hit the shelves and consumers purchase them.
FABER: That's right. FDA does not have premarket review authority like they have for drugs. All of your drugs have to be reviewed by FDA for safety. None of your personal care products ever have to be reviewed by FDA for safety.
P. BROWN: So right now, the onus is on the company to self-regulate in large part?
FABER: That's right. This isn't a problem that's just limited to baby powder. I mean, it's easy to imagine that puff of baby powder and the likelihood that we might inhale it, but there are many other things we put on our bodies every day that we're just as likely to inhale. Think of a foundation or a blush or an eye shadow that you would put on your face.
P. BROWN: So if the powder I put on my face this morning contained talc, you would say it wasn't safe?
FABER: So personally I would say certainly you took a risk that that product may be contaminated with asbestos.
HSU: The question that gets raised a lot by plaintiffs is, why there isn't a standard that is used across the industry with which to measure whether or not there's asbestos in talc?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to welcome everyone today to FDA's public meeting on testing methods for asbestos and talc in cosmetic products.
FABER: FDA to their credit pulled together all of these experts to figure out how do we combine the best of the testing methods that are in the marketplace so that we're doing the best possible job we can to look for fibers and talc.
FRANK EHRENFELD, LABORATORY DIRECTOR, IATL: Good afternoon. I am the laboratory director at IATL International Asbestos Testing Laboratories.
There has been progress in trying to understand these issues. And yet there's still a lot of room for improvement to protect the public health and consumers.
Here we've laid out some samples. The one on the back left is chrysotile, that's a regulated asbestos mineral, and the back on the right is talc. There is accreditation for asbestos in the built environment.
There is accreditation for asbestos testing error, but there is no accreditation currently for asbestos in talc products.
P. BROWN: Do you think talc should be sold at all?
FABER: You know, I think that with a warning and a really rigorous testing system, it makes sense to allow consumers to decide for themselves.
HSU: In 2020, Johnson & Johnson said that it was going to discontinue sales of talc-based baby powder in North America. They cited lower demand for baby powder. They blamed misinformation about the safety of talc. The replacement of course for talc baby powder is cornstarch baby powder. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Original and new baby powder cornstarch from
Johnson & Johnson.
BERFIELD: People have a right to ask the question of, if you had another product about which there were no safety concerns, that's very plentiful, that's cheap, why wouldn't you just sell that?
A. BROWN: We have always believed this is a safe product. And that's why we continue to sell it for over 125 years. It was a sad day in 2020 when we stopped selling this iconic product. We did it not because we have any concerns about the safety but because a plaintiff lawyer advertising that has resulted in an avalanche of litigation.
P. BROWN: So if it was on the shelves today, would you use it? Would you feel comfortable using it?
A. BROWN: Absolutely.
P. BROWN: And have you ever used it?
A. BROWN: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: J&J shares, they're falling today on new developments in the company's talc bankruptcy case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a big decision by the U.S. appeals court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The federal judge striking down J&J's Texas two- step.
BLOCK: So, this morning, I got the decision by e-mail from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that we've been waiting for. And I think I pounded my, you know, hand on the desk and said, yes.
All right. Let's call Gina.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: It's Gina. How you guys doing?
BLOCK: Hey, Gina.
AUDREY RAPHAEL, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFFS: Hi, Gina.
BLOCK: The bankruptcy filing that Johnson & Johnson did is dismissed?
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: Did they reject it? Oh, my god.
BLOCK: They did reject it.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: Awesome. Awesome. That's the best news.
FAHNLANDER: I mean, I am so happy that the judges really made the right decision.
BLOCK: Talk to you soon.
BLOCK: Today I'm feeling a sense of relief to get this decision where these judges so thoughtfully and so thoroughly said the bankruptcy code is there to protect certain companies but only companies that really need it. If J&J could have gotten away with this, then really any wealthy company could avoid its liabilities by creating a subsidiary, putting that subsidiary in the bankruptcy, and then just riding off in the sunset with all its assets.
P. BROWN: The Third Circuit stopped short of putting an end to the Texas two-step. What do you say to that?
DURBIN: Well, I'm disappointed they didn't go further. I'm glad they ruled as they did because what Johnson & Johnson was trying to do was unacceptable. But this is a corporate playbook that's going to be used over and over until we stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: J&J announcing its subsidiary branch LTL Management is refiling for bankruptcy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: J&J says more than 16,000 claimants have committed to support the proposed resolution.
P. BROWN: The Third Circuit overturned the first bankruptcy filing. Why try it a second time?
A. BROWN: Because resolving this litigation is important to us and should be important to women throughout the country.
P. BROWN: DOJ and its objection to this latest bankruptcy filing, they used some pretty strong words. For nearly 18 months, tens of thousands of cancer victim have been barred from pursuing their rights. To subject these victims to any additional delay would be unconscionable. What do you say to that?
A. BROWN: For the last 10 years, we have seen nothing but delay. We have seen almost no cases get to trial. So, I hope that if DOJ's focus is on compensating people, they allow us to get this plan before the people that we are proposing compensating with $9 billion.
P. BROWN: So, how much money will each claimant get?
A. BROWN: That's a great question, and it's something that will be resolved as we get closer to finalizing the plan. There will be negotiations based on their individual disease and age and risk factors.
P. BROWN: If Johnson & Johnson loses on this second bankruptcy filing, will it just continue to go down this route?
A. BROWN: So I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Our singular focus right now is getting this plan finalized. And what will never change is our resolve to find a way to reach finality in this litigation that has really not served anybody.
DOGANALP: Tea, everyone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, please.
DOGANALP: All right. You're sitting here. That's good. Yum, yum. I know.
Every six months, I go into a CT scan, you know, just like fingers crossed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you mentioned the scan.
DOGANALP: Yes, I got this CT done, right, my routine CT. But this time, it was crazy scary, and they said there's a cyst. And there's, like -- we don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where?
DOGANALP: It's in the left inguinal, where the cancer started. So, I was like, what do you mean? And they said, we don't know if it's cancer or not. I booked a manual examination, and they issued me that it's not cancer. It's like they were sure that it was hernia is back. But I was just planning my funeral. I was like, what's mom was going to do, and you know. When you go through this kind of an experience, you become a different person forever. It's not easy. Not at all. But I still -- you know, I have hope.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: Going through the journey that I have went through, I feel that I'm in a good spot with my family. I'm in a good spot with my children, my grandchildren, my friends. I'm in remission. But I think that it's overwhelming the number of women while they're waiting for Johnson & Johnson to make things right, they're dying.
FAHNLANDER: I don't know if I'm going to be alive next year. I don't -- I -- yes. I'm doing the best that I can every day. And I am loving what is there to love and the people that are there for me, and I refuse to be afraid.
POWLESS-BUENROSTRO: You can't bring back a life, but you can show some kind of compassion, that you care what you've done for me. I'm going to be honest with you, I want to take that burden that they placed on me and hand it right back to them. That's yours to carry.
COOPER: As a result of the second bankruptcy filing, almost all of the trials against Johnson & Johnson are once again on hold.
The women you met in this hour, among thousands of plaintiffs who oppose Johnson & Johnson's use of the bankruptcy court to settle these lawsuits.
Join us next week, as we travel to San Francisco, which has been plagued with issues of crime and drugs. What happened to San Francisco? Find out next Sunday.