Director of 9/11 Fund Chosen to Estimate the Cost of J&J Talk Claims

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The attorney who oversaw payments to victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks will be appointed by a federal judge to estimate the aggregate liability facing Johnson & Johnson for claims that talc in its baby powder causes cancer.

Kenneth R. Feinberg is said to oversee one of the most controversial parts of J&J’s bid to end a negotiated end to more than 38,000 lawsuits accusing the healthcare giant of causing cancer. The high-profile mediator will be asked to estimate how many people have legitimate claims against J&J and how much it could cost to compensate them.

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Feinberg previously spent years helping distribute $7 billion among the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He runs a brokerage firm, which has paid as much as $300,000 a month in other bankruptcy cases.

During a video hearing Thursday, U.S. bankruptcy judge Michael Kaplan asked attorneys involved in the J&J case to send him any concerns about Feinberg’s nomination, which he will try to include in a formal injunction naming the estimator. . Kaplan did not set a TBEN for Feinberg to complete his work, but said he expects it to be finished before “the weather turns cold”.

J&J disputes the claim that the talc it uses in making baby powder and other products is harmful.

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Kaplan oversees the bankruptcy case of a unit that J&J created to resolve all talc-related cancer claims in one court, rather than fight thousands of lawsuits in the US.

Last year, J&J moved all of its talk obligations to its purpose-built unit called LTL Management and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The maneuver has been labeled the Texas Two Step by critics because it’s based on a business-friendly law in that state.

The estimation process will be based on data from thousands of previous settlements and court rulings, Kaplan said. J&J and the cancer victims are not allowed to demand documents from each other, which could delay the process, he added.

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In similar bankruptcy battles, the estimation phase involves months of legal battles over how much personal information cancer victims should reveal. Those kinds of questions aren’t allowed in J&J’s case, Kaplan said. That’s a clear loss for LTL, who have said such data is necessary.

The bankruptcy is LTL Management LLC, 21-30589, US Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

Photo: Kenneth Feinberg. Photographer: Andrew Harrer

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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