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.
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.
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.
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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