The Supreme Court’s decision to deny reviewing a Johnson & Johnson talc lawsuit leaves the company on the hook for paying $2.5 billion, or $2.1 billion in damages plus interest.
But the talc litigation development also serves as a reminder that the company faces multiple litigation risks — some related to opioid litigation. The company has a proposed opioid settlement framework recommending a $5 billion payment to settle outstanding litigation. “If finalized, this would considerably reduce uncertainty related to J&J’s opioid exposures,” concluded a recent Moody’s report.
The company had initially agreed to a $4 billion settlement framework in negotiations with state attorneys general. Last October, the company agreed to pay an additional $1 billion as part of that framework.
The Supreme Court’s denial of a talc verdict appeal will leave Moody’s Aaa rating for J&J unchanged. “The company’s financial flexibility remains very strong, with gross debt/EBITDA of 1.6x as of April 4, 2021, and reported cash and short-term investments of $24.6 billion,” Moody’s concluded.
Johnson & Johnson has denied wrongdoing related to either its sale of talc or opioids.
Also related to opioids, J&J is also appealing a $465 million judgment Oklahoma won against the company. Attorneys general there asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court in late 2020 to make Johnson & Johnson pay up to $9.3 billion to the state — some 20 times more than the initial $465 million settlement. The attorneys general recommended in an appeal brief that the company pay $465 million annually for 20 years “or until the trial court determines the [opioid] crisis has been abated, whichever comes first.”