Johnson & Johnson to appeal $19 million owed to California cancer patient

By Julia Wray | Published: 19-Jul-2023

The talc cancer trial involving 24-year-old Emory Hernandez Valadez was the first faced by J&J since its bankruptcy filing

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) owes US$18.8m to a 24-year-old mesothelioma patient in the US, who claims his cancer was caused by exposure to the health giant’s baby powder. 

On 18 July, an Oakland, California jury ruled in favour of Anthony ‘Emory’ Hernandez Valadez, who filed a suit against J&J in 2022, seeking monetary damages. 

The jury found Hernandez entitled to damages to compensate him for his medical bills and suffering, but declined to award punitive damages against J&J.

J&J’s Vice President of Litigation, Erik Haas, said the company would appeal. 

In a statement, Hass called the verdict: “Irreconcilable with the decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”

The six-week talc trial was the first J&J has faced since its subsidiary LTL Management refiled for bankruptcy in April.

The refiling saw J&J agree to contribute up to US$8.9bn, payable over 25 years, to resolve all current and future talc claims.

An earlier attempt to file for bankruptcy by LTL was dismissed by a federal appeals court on the grounds that LTL did not face financial distress.

A freeze on J&J talc litigation is currently in place; Judge Michael Kaplan, of the US Bankruptcy Court in Trenton, New Jersey, extended to J&J the same protection against talc-related trials enjoyed by LTL. 

However, Kaplan allowed the Valadez trial to go ahead because the claimant is only expected to live a short time.

Valadez will not be able to collect the damages in the foreseeable future as a result of the Bankruptcy Court order.

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