Nearly every month has produced more news in the frustrating tug-of-war that is Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder litigation. The legal battle over talcum powder has evolved into a protracted struggle involving Johnson & Johnson’s insistence on bankruptcy court and the resulting impasse that has halted over 37,000 lawsuits. Nevertheless, the first talcum powder trial in nearly two years concluded favorably for the plaintiffs. In a recent development, a California man named Anthony Hernandez Valadez was awarded a verdict of $18.8 million. Valadez asserts that the iconic baby powder played a significant role in causing his mesothelioma.
Lawsuit Alleging Mesothelioma Caused by Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
The 24-year-old filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a California state court in Oakland last year. Valadez testified that his significant exposure to the company’s talc products led to the development of mesothelioma around the tissue of his heart.
Valadez informed the jury that he would never have used Johnson & Johnson’s talc products if he had been aware of the alleged asbestos contamination. His mother testified that she had used substantial amounts of the company’s baby powder on her son from infancy into childhood. Unfortunately, Valadez’s specific form of mesothelioma is quite uncommon, setting his case apart from others involving Johnson & Johnson.
Jury Awards $18.8 Million Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Trial
Following a six-week trial, the jury mandated that Johnson & Johnson pay $18.8 million to compensate Valadez for his medical expenses and pain and suffering. However, the jury refrained from awarding Valadez punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.
Valadez’s attorneys accused Johnson & Johnson of engaging in a decades-long cover-up to conceal asbestos contamination in their talcum powder products. On the other hand, Johnson & Johnson sang its usual tune and denied the existence of evidence linking Valadez’s mesothelioma to asbestos or establishing his exposure to contaminated talc. The company has announced its intention to appeal the $18.8 million verdict.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits August 2023 Update
Despite Johnson & Johnson’s second bankruptcy pausing lawsuits yet again, the court made an exception due to Valadez’s rapidly deteriorating health.
Like the first bankruptcy plan, plaintiffs and their attorneys contend that Johnson & Johnson’s second bankruptcy attempt is a charade to dodge the full financial setbacks of litigating these cases in federal court. Following the dismissal of J&J’s first bankruptcy filing in April, the company pivoted and immediately filed for bankruptcy again. The company’s second bankruptcy filing included a provision of $8.9 billion to settle ongoing lawsuits, an increase compared to the $2 billion offered in its initial bankruptcy plan. However, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan ruled that its subsidiary, LTL Management, was in no immediate financial distress that would necessitate bankruptcy court.
Not only has the company vowed to appeal the latest verdict, but J&J also intends to challenge Judge Kaplan’s rejection of its second bankruptcy. With a third bankruptcy filing looming, cancer claimants and the U.S. Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog requested that Judge Kaplan block the company from filing for bankruptcy a third time for at least 180 days.