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Durbin: Johnson & Johnson is Avoiding Accountability to Customers Who Got Cancer

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered remarks at the Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights hearing on “Abusing Chapter 11: Corporate Efforts to Side-Step Accountability Through Bankruptcy.”  During his remarks, Durbin called out Johnson & Johnson for using a corporate bankruptcy shell game known as the “Texas Two-Step” to avoid facing claims from cancer-stricken customers.  If Johnson & Johnson succeeds with this maneuver, cancer victims who allege that their illnesses were caused by asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talc will be forced to seek restitution from a shell company and will likely receive pennies on the dollar, if anything at all.

Key Durbin quotes:

“Go look at Johnson & Johnson’s website and take a look at all the pictures of those beautiful babies, and all the products they sell for those babies… people are suffering injuries, and they’re trying to dance around the bankruptcy system to avoid paying these innocent victims.  That is not good corporate responsibility.”

“The ‘Good Co.’ – if you can call Johnson & Johnson that – is worth $430 billion.  So the ‘Bad Co.’ – LTL – ends up with $2 billion for 38,000 claims.  And you’re saying that’s a fair apportionment by Johnson & Johnson?  Get real.  The idea was to protect $430 billion worth of corporate assets by creating a $2 billion entity.”

“Our legal system is supposed to be about looking for justice, not efficiency.  And if you think efficiency says a $430 billion corporation can walk away from any wrongdoing…  There should have been some knowledge that they were, in fact, selling a dangerous product which endangered the life of their innocent customers.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

On December 17, Durbin led a bicameral letter to Johnson & Johnson’s incoming CEO objecting to the company’s efforts to manipulate bankruptcy laws to evade accountability for harm caused by its products.  This followed a prior Durbin-led letter in which the Senators and Representatives wrote to then-CEO Alex Gorsky requesting information to help explain why Johnson & Johnson is seeking to deny claimants the chance to have their cases fairly considered.  In July, the same group of signatories 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.