Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has faced its first trial over claims that asbestos in its talc products caused cancer since its LTL Management spinoff’s establishment and bankruptcy.
On Wednesday 31 May, jurors in an Alameda County, California court heard from lawyer Joseph Satterley, representing 24-year-old Anthony Hernandez Valadez.
Hernandez Valadez alleges his mesothelioma – a cancer associated with exposure to asbestos – resulted from exposure to the health care giant’s talc products, beginning when he was a baby.
Allison Brown, a lawyer for J&J, said in her opening statement that the company went to great lengths to ensure that there were no contaminants in its talc.
Litigation has largely been on pause during J&J subsidiary LTL Management’s bankruptcy proceedings.
In April, LTL Management refiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with J&J agreeing 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 was dismissed by a federal appeals court on the grounds that it did not face financial distress.
However, in this instance, US Chief Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan, who is overseeing LTL’s Chapter 11, allowed the trial to go ahead because Hernandez Valadez is only expected to live a short time.
If Hernandez Valadez wins, he will not be able to collect on the judgement while the bankruptcy is ongoing.