Johnson & Johnson asked a federal judge to take over 2,400 baby-powder lawsuits it faces instead of allowing the cases to go before state court juries around the country, where the company has a mixed record, Bloomberg News reported. The health care company is seeking to take advantage of court protections available to J&J’s bankrupt talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. Under chapter 11 protection, Imerys is able to temporarily halt lawsuits it faces while the company negotiates with plaintiffs and tries to reorganize. Because it isn’t in bankruptcy, J&J would normally not be able use those protections. In this case, the company is arguing that because it has contractual ties to Imerys, J&J has the right to force any cases that could involve both companies to be adjudicated in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware. J&J is facing more than 14,000 claims that its talc products caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos exposure. The company has denied that its products are harmful. The case is In re Imerys Talc America Inc., 19-00103, U.S. District Court, the bankruptcy case is 19-10289, U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Both cases are in the District of Delaware (Wilmington).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it has agreed not to prosecute one of the country’s biggest gold refineries, Republic Metals Corp. (RMC), after an investigation into possible money laundering, Reuters reported. The probe is part of a broader crackdown by U.S. authorities on imports of gold from South American countries such as Colombia and Peru that is illegally mined or used to launder drug money. Investigators in 2017 said that another U.S. refiner, Elemetal, had bought billions of dollars’ worth of illegal gold from South America. Several of its employees received jail terms. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida said on Wednesday that it had agreed a non-prosecution deal with RMC after “an investigation focusing on money laundering and violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.” RMC would continue to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and improve its anti-money laundering and compliance programs, it said in a statement on its website. Miami-based RMC declared bankruptcy last year. Its assets are being bought by rival refiner Asahi.
The U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Connecticut said that Joel C. Reilly of Wallingford, Conn., pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud on Wednesday after allegedly securing credit using another individual’s name, then declaring bankruptcy on their behalf for those same loans, the New Haven Register reported. Reilly “fraudulently applied for and obtained loans and lines of credit in the name of another individual... without the victim’s knowledge or permission, using her name and personal information,” according to the U.S. District Attorney's office. The outstanding debt on the loans was approximately $211,142 as of December 2016, spokesman Tom Carson said, which Reilly could not repay.