August 26, 2021

(Reuters) – A federal judge has cleared the way for Johnson & Johnson to split its talc-related liabilities from the rest of its business, a decision that could allow the drugmaker to move thousands of claims by people who used its Baby Powder and other talc products into bankruptcy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein ruled at a hearing on Thursday in Delaware bankruptcy court.

The ruling came over the objections of lawyers for people who claimed that J&J’s talc products contained asbestos and caused them or family members to develop cancer.

Plaintiffs include women who have suffered from ovarian cancer, and others battling mesothelioma.

Moving talc-based claims into the Chapter 11 process could shield J&J from having to defend against cancer claims in jury trials. The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company has not publicly announced such a plan.

(Reporting by Maria Chutchian and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)