Asbestos Talc Cases Remanded to State Courts Despite Pending Bankruptcy of Talc Supplier United States District Court, C.D. California, May 21, 2019
CALIFORNIA — On Tuesday, a federal court in California ordered that a group of asbestos talc personal injury cases must be remanded to state court on equitable grounds. Defendant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had removed these actions to federal court in April on the basis of the pending bankruptcy of its sole talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, Inc., claiming that J&J’s supply agreements with Imerys contained contractual indemnifications and other liability-sharing provisions, and that they were “related” to Imerys’s bankruptcy proceedings in federal court in Delaware.
In issuing its order to remand, the court reasoned that the plaintiffs’ claims included injuries sounding entirely in state tort law. The court further determined that the plaintiffs’ rights to jury trials would be substantially prejudiced if the actions were not remanded, and they chastised J&J for a two-month delay in removing the actions to federal court. Finally, they reasoned that if J&J is entitled to contribution or indemnity from Imerys, it can separately bring those claims against Imerys’s estates in bankruptcy court, and they will suffer no serious prejudice by doing so.
This case summary is provided with permission from Westlaw here.