A new story posted to The New Yorker penned by Casey Cep offers up one of the most comprehensive and infuriating views into the ongoing scandal over Johnson & Johnson talc products and the impact they have had on Americans’ health, particularly women.
The contamination of J&J’s talc products with asbestos is a tale that spans across decades, multiple federal agencies, and billions of dollars. While the company has denied the presence of asbestos in its talc products from day one – and even did so in response to The New Yorker’s story – all evidence appears to point to the contrary. Bombshell after bombshell has been dropped, primarily via investigative reports filed by Reuters, that indicate that not only did Johnson & Johnson talc products contain asbestos, but the company knew about it for decades, the FDA knew about it and worked with the company to conceal it, and American corporate law may shield the company from further liability in the matter.
Project Plato is a phrase that no executive at one of America’s oldest and formerly most trusted healthcare goods manufacturers wants to see anywhere on the internet. It was devised deep within J&J’s walls to use a corporate legal maneuver known as a Texas two-step bankruptcy to offload all the corporation’s talc liabilities onto a newly created company and then immediately declare that company bankrupt. Those involved with Project Plato were told to refrain from discussing the initiative with anyone – including refusing to acknowledge that it even existed. News of Project Plato even reached the halls of Congress, with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time calling the move “shameful,” “indefensible,” and “complicated trickery that ordinary people don’t have access to.”
That hasn’t stopped Project Plato from moving forward however as it sits on the brink of success. The move has been challenged by plaintiffs involved in the Johnson & Johnson talc asbestos MDL and the decision now rests with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Court’s decision will impact virtually every consumer in the United States as it decides whether the law exists to protect the American people or whether it should be used to shield corporations from harms inflicted at-will. As noted in an injunction filed by multiple states against further moves by J&J to protect itself and its profits at the expense of consumer health, “principles of federalism [could] vanish” as a result of the Court’s allowing J&J to prevail, “while a multi-billion dollar entity contorts the bankruptcy code to shield itself from the states’ constitutional and statutory exercise of their police and regulatory powers.”
Our coverage of the Johnson & Johnson talc asbestos scandal has been extensive. However, information is today’s most powerful currency. And the latest publication on the matter by Cep and The New Yorker is something every American should read – not only in service to their health, but also to gain crystal clear insight into the state of American corporate law and the lengths it will go to protect its businesses over its people.