California Man Tells Jury He Got Cancer After Using J&J Baby Powder

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – A California man suing Johnson & Johnson told jurors on Monday how his life had been turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis he attributes to using the company’s baby powder since childhood, when the first product trial in nearly two years was coming to an end. .

“I just became a scared little kid,” Emory Hernandez said, fighting back tears, of his 2022 mesothelioma diagnosis while testifying in Alameda County Superior Court, according to an online broadcast of the trial. by Courtroom View Network. He said he would have avoided J&J’s talc had he been warned it contained asbestos, as his lawsuit claims.

J&J denied that its baby powder contained asbestos or caused cancer.

Hernandez, 24, said he recently changed his name to Emory, from Anthony, as he had hoped to use the name of his own future child.

“I used it kind of like in honor of the potential child I might have had,” he said.

J&J argued in the case that Hernandez’s disease, which affects the tissues around his heart rather than the more common form affecting the lungs, is extremely rare and has not been linked to exposure to the asbestos.

J&J attorney Allison Brown, in cross-examination, asked Hernandez what he knew about his own case.

Hernandez said he didn’t know much about the specifics of the lawsuit, and he didn’t personally buy baby powder or remember the specific products he used. He also said he did not recall his doctor ever telling him that baby powder had caused his cancer.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from Hernandez’s mother, Anna Camacho, who said she used large amounts of J&J’s baby powder on her son when he was a baby and during his childhood. She cried as she described Hernandez’s disease.

“I wouldn’t wish that on any parent,” she said.

Hernandez’s lawsuit, which is expected to conclude later this week, comes as J&J seeks to resolve thousands of similar talc-related lawsuits through a settlement.

J&J subsidiary LTL Management filed for bankruptcy in April in Trenton, New Jersey, offering to pay $8.9 billion to settle more than 38,000 lawsuits and prevent new cases from arising in the future. . This is the company’s second attempt to resolve talc’s bankruptcy claims, after a federal appeals court rejected an earlier bid.

U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan in New Jersey is set to hold a hearing on Tuesday on whether to dismiss the latest bankruptcy as filed in bad faith, as some talc plaintiffs and the US government.

J&J said the proposed bankruptcy settlement offers a fairer and faster resolution for cancer claimants than litigation in other courts.

Litigation was largely halted during the bankruptcy proceedings, but Kaplan allowed Hernandez’s trial to continue as he is expected to live only a short time.

Even if Hernandez wins, he won’t be able to collect the judgment while the bankruptcy is pending, though the case could affect future settlement negotiations.

J&J said in bankruptcy court filings that the costs of its talc-related verdicts, settlements and legal fees soared to about $4.5 billion.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Matthew Lewis)

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