Johnson and Johnson bankruptcy claim is a ruse to limit liability, cancer victims say

Juliet Gray has felt many things since she was first diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma two years ago.

Pain, which flares up when she’s stressed or tired. Fear, with every new doctor’s visit as she dreads the return of her rare, terminal cancer. Heartache, when she thinks of her 9-year-old son and how quickly her time with him is running out.

Mostly, though, she’s mad. She’s furious with New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, whose talc products she blames for her incurable cancer. And her fury recently curdled into betrayal after Johnson & Johnson filed for bankruptcy in a controversial strategy company attorneys say will expedite the nearly 40,000 lawsuits against them.

Critics say the company — worth over $400 billion — is far from bankrupt and instead just wants to keep their cases from being heard by juries. Maryland-based attorney Jonathan Ruckdeschel, who has filed several lawsuits against J&J, said such a strategy forces plaintiffs into a collectively negotiated, judicially enforced settlement and removes their Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.

“What they’re trying to do is cram everybody into a one-size-fits-all mandatory settlement that nobody has the choice to opt in or out of, and if you

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