US single-family home price growth cooled further in November, surveys showed on Tuesday, which together with declining mortgage rates could help to slow the housing market’s slide deeper into recession.
The S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller national home price index, covering all nine US census divisions, increased 9.2% year-on-year in November, pulling back from October’s increase of 10.7%. A surge in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a housing market boom, driving prices to record highs.
On a month-to-month basis, home prices fell 0.6% in November compared with October, the fifth straight monthly decline.
The Federal Reserve’s fastest interest rate-hiking cycle since the 1980s has driven housing into recession. Falling mortgage rates and slowing house price inflation have, however, raised hopes that the housing market could soon stabilize, though at depressed levels.
The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage ticked down to an average 6.13% last week, the lowest level since mid-September, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac.
The rate was down from 6.15% in the prior week and has dropped from an average of 7.08% early in the fourth quarter, which was the highest since 2002. But it remains well above the average 3.55% seen during the same period last year.
“As rates have come down in the first weeks of the new year, housing market activity has started to thaw out, but 2023 will likely still be a relatively tamer year for housing with many expecting prices to flatline at best,” said Nicole Bachaud, senior economist at Zillow in Seattle.
A separate report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed home prices climbed 8.2% in the 12 months through November after advancing 9.8% in October.
A Los Angeles-based Google engineer said she found out she was being laid off after receiving a company notice at 2 a.m. while out on mental health leave.
Ali Neil, 29, was one of 12,000 employees who received pink slips earlier this month as part of a sweeping round of layoffs at Google.
Neil told Insider she “bled for Google” and was taken aback by the severance notice after assuming she wouldn’t be included in any round of layoffs while on leave.
“Now I’m left here having to find a job for the first time in years after being on mental health leave in quite possibly one of the most difficult hiring situations and housing markets,” Neil said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Neil had worked at the tech giant since August 2020, according to her LinkedIn account, and had reportedly been on leave for about three months when she received the layoff notice.
The fired engineer said Google immediately cut off her access to her work laptop and company systems, making it more difficult to contact coworkers. Additionally, Neil was purportedly told she wouldn’t be allowed to return her company-owned devices on site and would have to either provide them to security stationed outside the office or mail them back.
Neil said she was unable to fall back asleep after receiving the overnight email and “silently mourned” until the morning. She also recounted the experience in a LinkedIn post last week.
“To the many people on the Mental Health and Wellbeing team whose roles were eliminated, thank you for everything that you have done to improve the wellbeing of Googlers,” Maczko said.
“To those who remain, Googlers need you more than ever now, and I am excited to see what you will do,” she added.
In a memo to staffers last week, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said the layoffs affected workers “across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions.”
He said the cuts took place after a “rigorous review” that was meant to prepare the company for worsening economic conditions and ensure its staffing levels were aligned with priority initiatives.
Many Google employees affected by the layoffs have taken to social media to express their disgust with how the cuts were handled – with workers learning their fate by email or reading news reports in some cases.
The talk show hosts discussed the horrific camera footage showing Nichols, who was black, being beaten by five black police officers – Tadarrius Bean, 24, Demetrius Haley, 30, Emmitt Martin III, 30, Desmond Mills Jr., 32, and Justin Smith, 28.
“When will the brutality finally lead to some police reform from the ground up? Clearly it doesn’t matter if it’s a white policeman or black policeman. It is the problem with the policing itself,” Goldberg said at the start of the episode.
“Seems things don’t make sense to people unless it’s somebody they can feel or they can recognize,” Goldberg continued. “Do we need to see white people also get beaten before anybody will do anything? I’m not suggesting that, so don’t write us and tell me what a racist I am. I’m just asking, is that what people have to see in order to wake up and realize this affects us all?”
The footage released last Friday showed the events that transpired during the Jan. 7 traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death. The video showed officers pepper-spraying and beating Nichols, who was black, with their fists and batons. In the video, Nichols can be heard crying for his mother.
The five officers who were arrested were charged with second-degree murder and other offenses.
At least two of the five officers were part of an “elite” SCORPION task force tasked with combating major felonies in high-crime neighborhoods. The Memphis Police Department is disbanding the unit.
Co-host Sonny Hostin said she had yet to watch the video, adding she feared it showed her “worst nightmare.”
“We got a lot of energy about gas prices, and debt and inflation. I would like to see that same energy directed towards police reform because we are also paying for police brutality out of our tax dollars,” Hostin said.
Ana Navarro also weighed in with a scathing rebuke of the officers.
“What we saw, in this case, is that good cops come in any gender, any class, any color. And bad cops can be any gender, any color, and these cops were blue before they were Black,” Navarro said. “These cops were part of the SCORPION Unit. It could not have been more aptly named because they were filled with poison and hatred and the desire to kill.”
Broadway’s “Wicked” isn’t quite “popular” with one working graphic designer at the moment.
Artist Adam Ellis claimed Sunday on Instagram that the smash Broadway musical “Wicked” asked him to create a custom piece of art for their “Year of the Fan” campaign to help celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary.
According to a screenshot shared by Ellis, the show — which is currently the second-largest-grossing show on Broadway — offered to compensate him with a pair of tickets to the show as well as credits across their social media.
As of Monday, tickets to the show start at nearly $110. Ellis allegedly declined the offer saying that he would not work for free and that he would send them his current rate if they were still interested.
“Not Wicked the Musical offering me $100 theater tickets in exchange for custom artwork when they’re the second highest grossing Broadway show of all time,” Ellis, 37, posted to his 1.7 million followers on Instagram. “Brands need to realize that creatives don’t make art for fun, it’s our livelihood.”
“I can’t pay rent with theater tickets. My intention isn’t to shame some social media manager who’s just doing their job,” continued Ellis, “but I know that when I decline a campaign that doesn’t pay, they just move down their list of artists until they find someone new enough or desperate enough to make art for the ‘exposure.’ ”
“I know they have the cash to pay me and any other artist they want to work with, if they valued us. Do better. Pay us.”
The Post reached out to “Wicked” reps and Ellis for comment.
“Wicked” tells the story of both Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and how they were both friends before the events of “The Wizard of Oz.”
The show gained international fame after opening on Broadway in 2003 and winning several Tony Awards including Best Actress for Idina Menzel.
“Wicked” is also set to be adapted into a two-part movie starring Cynthia Erivo, Ariana Grande, Jonathan Bailey, Oscar nominee Michelle Yeoh and Jeff Goldblum.
Several artists also slammed the production.
“Broadway producers are SERIOUSLY cheap, and loooooove love love to exploit labor as much as possible,” slammed one user. “Broadway Costume Makers are making $18-$20 per hour, and are NON UNION labor, making every costume you see on broadway.”
“I’m a working professional illustrator and I support you 1000% for putting this out there,” chided a second person. “It happens all too often and I worry that AI will be where they go to next for free work. I swear, being an artist is a never-ending battle to fight for the most basic things and to keep afloat.”
“Defying poverty,” snarked a third person.
“Did … did they really end it with ‘oh and also we’ll offer to credit you for your work to top our deal off’ as if credit should be common sense anyways,” a fourth person commented.
Other users said that the offer wasn’t as bad as it could be.
“That’s actually a generous offer compared to some emails I get,” said one artist.
“This actually seems like a good deal coz it’s not working for free,” said another. “It’s working for literally hundred-dollar tickets- I don’t see the issue.”
“Wicked” is currently playing at the Gershwin Theatre in New York.
A Los Angeles-based lawyer employed by Google discovered he was being laid off by the tech giant in an email that he received at 2 a.m. while he was feeding his newborn infant daughter.
Nicholas Dufau had been employed by the search engine as its associate product counsel for six months when he was granted parental leave following the birth of his daughter in the early morning hours of Jan. 17.
Dufau shared a photo of him cradling his little bundle of joy to his chest on Google’s internal Slack channel, where dozens of colleagues sent their warm wishes.
Little did the new dad know that just 72 hours later, he would receive a message from his employer notifying him that he no longer had access to his work email and that he was effectively terminated — this while feeding his daughter in the wee hours of the night.
He was among 12,000 employees let go by Google last week.
“Last Tuesday morning at 2am, I became a father,” Dufau wrote in a LinkedIn post Wednesday that has gone viral.
“The next day, my Google teammates showered me with heart emojis and virtual confetti, wishing me well on my paternity leave.”
Dufau continued: “On Friday morning at 2am while feeding my infant, I received a notification that I had lost access to my Google corporate accounts.”
“I had been laid off via automated email,” he wrote.
Dufau wrote that his colleagues at Google reassured him that the company “was one that treasured its employees and encouraged me to take the full extent of my parental leave to cherish this precious time with my family.”
“I had never been so thankful to find myself on a team that valued me as a person,” he wrote.
“Every layoff hurts — the timing of this experience, however, not only made me feel acutely expendable, it made me feel naive,” Dufau wrote.
He wrote that he has found solace in his “saintly wife and miraculous daughter” who “have been here to lift my spirits and give me comfort.”
The Post has sought comment from Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Laid-off Googlers have not been shy about posting their stories on social media.
Nicole Tsai, a Southern California-based “vlogger,” posted a viral TikTok video showing the precise moment she learned she was being let go.
Ford is cutting prices on its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV by as much as $6,000 just weeks after market leader Tesla took similar steps.
The Detroit automaker is increasing production of the Mach-E this year and said it is taking advantage of streamlined costs to reduce prices across the board, it said Monday.
The cut comes just over two weeks after Elon Musk’s Tesla dropped prices 6% to nearly 20% in the United States on most of its models in an effort to bolster demand and raise market share.
Ford’s maneuver will almost certainly force other automakers to trim prices as well, touching off a bit of a price war for electric vehicles, said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area consulting firm.
“To remain price competitive to consumers, it’s going to require a response from anyone who wants to play in this area,” he said.
However, Schuster says he doesn’t see an all-out price war that brings prices down even more. Automakers will try to protect profit margins on EVs as their share of the US market keeps growing, he said.
Although Ford didn’t mention Tesla in its statement, the Dearborn, Mich., company said the price cuts are part of Ford’s plan to keep the SUV competitive in a fast-changing market.
“We are not going to cede ground to anyone,” said Marin Gjaja, Chief Customer Officer of Ford Model e, the company’s electric vehicle unit.
The price of a base rear-wheel-drive standard range Mach-E will drop $900, from $46,895 to $45,995. The top-end GT extended range will fall $5,900, from $69,895 to $63,995. The prices don’t include shipping, government fees or taxes.
On Jan. 13, Tesla slashed prices dramatically on several versions of its electric vehicles, making some of its models eligible for a new federal tax credit that could help spur buyer interest.
The company dropped prices nearly 20% in the United States on some versions of the Model Y SUV, its top seller. That cut will make more versions of the Model Y eligible for a $7,500 electric-vehicle tax credit, which will be available through March. Tesla also reduced the base price of the Model 3, its least expensive model, by about 6%.
The cuts were in response to slowing demand and Tesla’s sagging stock price.
Ford said customers who ordered Mach Es and are awaiting delivery will automatically get the lower prices. The company will reach out directly to those who already have their vehicles with a sale date after Jan. 1.
New Internal Revenue Services rules could cause a sizable increase in audits and taxes on Americans, especially those using transaction services like Venmo and PayPal for fantasy sports, according to tax experts.
CPA and Tax expert attorney Bruce Willey told Fox News Digital that the new changes constituted one of the largest “cash grabs” by the IRS in recent memory and were likely to hit taxpayers “like a truck.”
“Most Americans are about to get run over, and they have no idea. If they’re not prepared for it, things could get pretty ugly for people,” he said.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 amended a code section that decreased the minimum threshold for reporting on third-party settlement organizations (TPSOs) from $20,000 and 200 or more transactions to any transaction of $600 or more.
The code change, approved by Democrats and signed by President Biden in March 2021, will require TPSOs like Venmo, PayPal, Etsy, AirBnB and more to send 1099-k forms to the IRS and users if their transactions exceed the amount. If a sports betting application like FanDuel or DraftKings uses these payment systems, you will face taxes there, though sports betting is already included under the current tax code.
“It’s this huge fishing net that’s just going to sweep up a vast amount of people in America,” Willey said.
The code change will likely burden those engaged in sports fantasy leagues and sellers of professional sports tickets with additional obligations come tax season.
BakerHostetler Nationwide Tax Chair Jeff Paravano described a situation in which an individual sells preseason games at a loss but still gets a 1099 for gross proceeds. IRS oversight will not consider what they paid for those tickets or their losses on games and will have to provide further details,
The taxpayer may or may not have taxable income because of that reporting but could get a form for even selling one ticket, depending on the sale amount.
“Somebody that engages in a lot of fantasy sports. You can only deduct the losses to the extent of your winnings. So, you better be keeping receipts of your losses. That’s going to be a deduction for you on the money you received,” Paravano, a former Senior Adviser to the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy, said.
Paravano said the changes were also likely to impact fantasy sports leagues with money wagers conducted by coworkers, friends and family members. He suggested the 1099 would be doled out for the gross amount and would not include the wager. Tax penalties are likely for the persons that held onto the money, who will receive a 1099 alongside the third-party payer used by the group.
“The fear is that the 1099 will be sent out for things that are not taxable income and the IRS doesn’t have the capability to easily figure that out,” he said.
Both tax experts suggested that the code changes could result in more audits and taxes for Americans or, at the very least, an increase in correspondence with the IRS.
Government leaders have repeatedly pushed back on the idea that the IRS changes would negatively impact any Americans making under $400,000.
“Legislators are being disingenuous,” Willey said. “This is one of those things where they say one thing while they are taking your campaign donation and then they turn around and go to Washington and do something completely different.”
“The reality of it is they said nobody making under $400,000 a year was going to have an increased chance of audit or pay more on taxes. That’s a flat lie. That’s not accurate. They’re lying to you,” he added.
National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins projected last week that the number of 1099s being filed would double once the code change goes into effect.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new provision will raise 8.1 billion in revenue over a 10-year budget window.
Calling it a “stealth tax increase,” Willey said it is a “fantasy world” to think that the move will not increase audits and taxes.
“If it didn’t increase anybody’s taxes and didn’t increase their chances of an audit, then what are the 87,000 new employees going to do, where’s’ the 9.1 billion that the estimated it’s going to recover—where’d that number come from? It’s going to affect the fabric of American life,” he said.
Outside of fantasy sports, Willey and Paravano also asserted that the IRS changes would impact Americans in various other ways.
For example, sending money to a kid in college can be considered a gift under the current US tax code unless it exceeds $17,000. However, both parents and the student will still receive a 1099 to ask for proof.
“The horror is that a parent who pays rent to a college student every month, guess what, they may get a 1099,” Pavalano said.
The code changes will also cover transactions on Facebook marketplace, lending money to a friend, reimbursing a roommate for rent, paying a colleague for going out to dinner, repaying a bar tab, a mother sending a child gas and raising money to get a coach a gift.
If a transaction provider like Venmo or PayPal is being used and the amount compounds to over $600 within a year, a 1099 will likely follow.
Interestingly, taxpayers will not get a 1099 if they use Zelle because of the technical definitions of third-party settlement organizations. Generally, a check is the safest option to avoid triggering a 1099.
The IRS’ current information return volume is 4 billion annually, with 99% filed electronically. They just rolled out a 1099 electronic information return portal.
The new system is expected to increase the paperwork and cause more instances of mismatch between the IRS and the taxpayer.
“In a vacuum, one of those transactions doesn’t seem bad, but if we’ve got 4 billion information returns now, and we think that might double, there’s just going to be a lot of compliance burdens,” Paravano said.
“The thing that comes up in my mind is the image of the dog catching bus. You caught the bus, what do you do with it. You’ve got all this information out, and you’ve got all the reporting. What will the IRS do with it,” he added.
There is support in the House and Senate from both parties to raise the threshold to $5,000.
Republicans, according to Paravano, would prefer to go back to the previous threshold of 20,000 and 200 transactions, but it will be challenging to put old rules back in place given the concern around spending.
Willey described the situation as an “enforcement nightmare” for the IRS and a nightmare for the taxpayer.
“You should be calling your legislature and complaining if they voted for this bill to all ends,” he added.
A 2022 IRS tax audit data study found that a taxpayer in the lowest income bracket is five times more likely to face an audit than a member of the highest income bracket.
“The IRS correspondence audit process is structured to expend the least amount of resources to conduct the largest number of examinations – resulting in the lowest level of customer service to taxpayers having the greatest need for assistance,” taxpayer advocate Collins said of the report during an annual report to Congress.
The IRS in December said that it is the new tax reporting requirement by one year and would likely impact tax filings occurring in early 2024.
The IRS said the change was intended to home in on Americans evading taxes by not reporting their full gross income. However, critics have labeled it as government overreach likely to hurt middle-class Americans and small businesses.
A link from the bare-bones PYRT site to the business communication platform Calendly shows McFarland’s hourly consulting fee of $1,800, designed to help tech companies expand their reach on social media platforms.
McFarland posted a TikTok video explaining the company’s vision, but social media users weren’t convinced — ridiculing him for wearing socks, sweat pants, and a T-shirt while holding a water bottle.
One wrote sarcastically: “Absolutely no way this could go wrong, Billy.”
Another TikTok user who apparently anticipates the venture turning into another scandal wrote: “Can’t wait for the Netflix show.”
“Come on, this just can’t be for real,” another TikTok user commented, noting that McFarland was “being straight out of prison and on to the next hustle.”
The idea is for users sitting at home on their couches to digitally attend exclusive parties with celebrities and influencers in an “immersive” environment that makes them think they’re on a remote, tropical island.
“They could, like, buy the talent a drink and then have some drink service bringing [the same kind of drink] to them at the same time the talent gets it,” McFarland told The Post last week.
“So, if you’re 18 years old and you’re on your computer in the middle of America, now you can actually come [to this party] and not only watch what’s happening, but take part in changing it,” McFarland said.
“It kind of gives you access to this really cool land and group of people.”
The Post has sought comment from McFarland.
Ironically enough, the venture includes bringing users on trips to a remote tropical island together with internet content creators and social media influencers.
“PYRT is not an event, it’s not a festival, and it’s definitely not a metaverse,” McFarland said in the TikTok video.
He said it was a technology that he had been “working on for the past couple of years” called “VID/R” — or virtual immersive decentralized reality.
McFarland, 31, said VID/R “brings together and connects people from around the world both virtually and physically.”
“Then, once they’re together, it allows people to affect real world change,” McFarland said in the TikTok video.
McFarland said that PYRT would be “partnering with a small remote destination where we will host a handful of artists, content creators, entrepreneurs,” and prospective job applicants who eventually get hired to work for the company.
The plan is to gather people on the island and then “launch a virtual replica” of the same location so that “anybody from around the world can not only watch what’s happening live but they can actually come together with their friends to affect and even own their real world adventures.”
McFarland recorded the video while standing in front of a map of the Exumas — the Bahamian archipelago where the Fyre Festival debacle took place in the spring of 2017.
Bahamian officials were quoted by NBC News as saying that McFarland, who is considered a “fugitive” by officials in Nassau, isn’t welcome on the island and that they would prevent any McFarland-linked venture from obtaining permits there.
“The Government of The Bahamas will not endorse or approve any event in The Bahamas associated with him,” the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism said.
In his TikTok video, McFarland expressed a preference for the Exumas to serve as the backdrop of his latest venture, though he added he would be open to working with other destinations as well.
McFarland told NBC News last week that he believes everyone involved with Fyre Festival will get their money back. Then he could foresee future collaboration with the Exumas.
“I think that once everybody is paid back, I’d love to have a conversation to see if that relationship can get repaired,” he said.
McFarland was released from a Brooklyn halfway house in September after serving more than four years in federal prison.
He pleaded guilty to scamming investors out of some $26 million after they bought into his vision of a luxury music festival in the Bahamas that was promoted by celebrities and social media influencers including Ja Rule, Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski.
Fans paid $12,000 per ticket only to discover that the Exuma resort was instead a dilapidated collection of tents and mattresses that were turned inside out by a massive storm.
Attendees, who had been promised lavish accommodations and luxury meals, instead posted images of plain cheese sandwiches in a box.
Australia’s “ABC 7.30” host Sarah Ferguson noted during an interview with Gates on Monday “one of the issues that dogged” his relationship to ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, was his ties to Epstein.
Ferguson asked, “Do you regret the relationship that you maintained with him against Melinda’s advice and wishes?”
Gates told Ferguson she was going “way back in time” before shrugging and answering the question.
“I will say for the over a 100th time, yeah, I shouldn’t have had dinners with him,” Gates said.
The “ABC 7.30” host wasn’t finished, informing Gates that “Epstein had a way of sexually compromising” people.
“Is that what Melinda was warning you about?” Ferguson asked.
“No, I mean, no, I had dinner with him and that’s all,” Gates said.
Ferguson pressed, asking if Gates regrets the relationship.
“That I had dinner with him,” Gates said, further implying the relationship was simply dinner.
Gates then rejected the notion that Gates’ foundation and Epstein were connected.
“There never was any relationship of any kind,” he said.
In 2021, Gates was confronted by PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff about the same topic and the billionaire gave similar answers.
Woodruff began the exchange by confronting Gates about the “number of meetings” he had with the shady billionaire, who at the time was already found guilty of soliciting prostitution from minors.
“What did you know about him when you were meeting with him, as you said yourself, in the hopes of raising money?” Woodruff asked.
“You know, I had dinners with him. I regret doing that,” Gates responded. “He had relationships with people he said, you know, would give to global health, which is an interest I have. You know, not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction.”
“Those meetings were a mistake. They didn’t result in what he purported and I cut them off. You know, that goes back a long time ago now, so there’s nothing new on that,” Gates added.
Woodruff continued grilling the Big Tech giant, asking him what he did when he “found out about his background.”
“You know, I’ve said I regretted having those dinners,” Gates told Woodruff. “And there’s nothing – absolutely nothing new on that.”
Keep up with today’s most important news
Stay up on the very latest with Evening Update.
Gates previously said he had met with Epstein in the hopes that the financier would donate toward Gates’ “goal of raising money for global health” in a 2021 interview with NBC News.
“I didn’t realize that the meeting with him almost downplayed the incredibly awful things he did,” Gates said. “I’ve learned more about that over time, but I add that to the list of big mistakes.”
His former wife has said she made it “clear” to the Microsoft honcho that she “did not like that he’d had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein.” She said she also met with the multi-millionaire once, but regretted it.
“I wanted to see who this man was, and I regretted it from the second I stepped in the door,” she told CBS in 2021. “He was abhorrent. He was evil personified. I had nightmares about it afterwards. My heart breaks for these young women.”
Epstein died at age 66 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. He was found hanged to death inside a Manhattan federal jail cell on August 10, 2019. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to soliciting a prostitute who was a minor.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.
Johnson & Johnson’s strategy to use bankruptcy to resolve the multibillion-dollar litigation over claims its talc products cause cancer was rejected by a federal appeals court on Monday, but the healthcare conglomerate said it would challenge the ruling.
The decision by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia removed from bankruptcy the company’s LTL Management unit, which was facing more than 38,000 legal claims tied to products such as its Johnson’s baby powder.
J&J shares were down 2.7% in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
J&J, which maintains its talc products are safe, created and spun off LTL and assigned its talc liabilities to the unit and placed it in bankruptcy in 2021.
J&J had argued that bankruptcy provided a way to resolve tens of thousands of legal claims more efficiently and fairly than taking the cases to trial individually. The company pledged a funding “backstop” to ensure LTL could pay talc claimants.
The appeals court said it dismissed the LTL Chapter 11 petition because the unit was created solely to access the bankruptcy system, not because it was financially distressed.
“Applied here, while LTL faces substantial future talc liability, its funding backstop plainly mitigates any financial distress foreseen on its petition date,” said the 56-page opinion by the three-judge panel.
J&J said it will challenge the Third Circuit’s ruling and continue to seek a resolution of the lawsuits in bankruptcy court.
“As we have said from the beginning of this process, resolving this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible is in the best interests of claimants and all stakeholders,” J&J spokeswoman Allison Fennell said. “We continue to stand behind the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”
J&J used a restructuring strategy known as the “Texas two-step” that was criticized by lawmakers and academics who argued the maneuver could provide a blueprint for other big companies to avoid juries in mass tort lawsuits.
Before the bankruptcy filing, J&J faced costs from $3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements, including one in which 22 women were awarded a judgment of more than $2 billion, according to bankruptcy court records.
But more than 1,500 talc lawsuits have been dismissed without J&J having to pay anything, and the majority of cases that have gone to trial have resulted in defense verdicts, mistrials or judgments for the company on appeal, according to LTL’s court filings.
The appeals court was urged to dismiss the bankruptcy petition by plaintiffs suing over the talc products. They argued one of the world’s largest healthcare companies should not be using bankruptcy to protect itself from lawsuits.
The cancer victims asked the appeals court to overrule a New Jersey bankruptcy judge who had allowed LTL’s bankruptcy to continue. LTL’s bankruptcy filing automatically stopped lawsuits from proceeding against it, and US Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan in Trenton, NJ, ruled in February that LTL’s bankruptcy should also stop talc lawsuits from proceeding against parent company J&J.
Kaplan said the bankruptcy court is better equipped to handle mass tort litigation than other courts.