Imerys Settles Talc Claims for at Least $5M

A unit of Imerys SA has agreed to settle claims that the talc it supplied to Johnson & Johnson was tainted with asbestos. The claims were made by 22 women, who alleged that the talc caused their cancers.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed to the public, but sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that the agreement includes a payment of at least $5 million. The company has not acknowledged that the talc was dangerous or tainted.

Imerys maintains that its talc is free of asbestos.

News of the settlement comes as the women prepare for trial, which is slated to start June 6 in St. Louis. J&J is now the only defendant in the case.

The company has reached a resolution with the women and “is being dismissed from the action,” said Gwen Myers, a spokeswoman for Imerys, in a statement.

The case is one of thousands against J&J over claims that its Baby Powder products contain talc contaminated by asbestos. Plaintiffs allege that the company has failed to warn consumers of the cancer risks. J&J maintains that its Baby Powder product is free of asbestos.

Imerys faces about 9,000 claims over the talc it supplied to J&J. Plaintiffs allege that the talc led to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

The company has thus far been forced to defend itself. In the most recent trial in New Jersey, a jury ordered J&J and Imerys to pay $117 million to a banker who said his mesothelioma was caused by his use of J&J’s Baby Powder.

The jury said J&J was liable for 70% of the damages, while Imerys was on the hook for the remaining 30%. Both companies have asked the trial judge to toss the award.

The majority of the 22 plaintiffs who were pressing claims in this case were from outside of Missouri.