Angus Cloud had been grieving for several months before his accidental overdose on July 31.
In May, the Euphoria star, 25, had said goodbye to his father, Conor Joseph Hickey, 65. He’d been diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that can affect the linings of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
Now Angus’s mom Lisa is suing Johnson & Johnson over the death of her late husband, claiming that his long-term use of Johnson’s Baby Powder contributed to his cancer.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit obtained and filed in Alameda County Superior Court on October 4, Lisa Cloud and her daughters Molly and Fiona Hickey are suing Johnson & Johnson for personal injuries and loss of consortium stemming from Hickey’s death. Mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos, which has been linked to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.
One week before Angus’s fatal overdose, he spread his father’s ashes in Ireland with his family, including his twin sisters.
“My son and his twin sisters were deeply grieving about their dad,” Lisa shared exclusively with PEOPLE last month. “They were all devastated.”
The family’s suit claims that Hickey’s fatal malignant mesothelioma diagnosis was caused by cumulative doses of asbestos, fibers and talc exposures present in Johnson’s Baby Powder. Hickey used the product throughout his life from 1957 to 2023, according to the suit, after bathing and in his shoes.
Thousands of lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson claim the talc powder had caused customers to develop either ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. The lawsuits allege that the company sold powder containing talcum while being aware of the health risks, such as possible asbestos contamination.
“Johnson & Johnson has gotten away with and continues to get away with misrepresenting their product even in 2023 — after numerous juries and courts have found their product causes cancer—they keep lying to the public and telling everybody it’s safe,” Cloud’s liability attorney Joseph Satterley tells PEOPLE.
“First, they just take it off the market in the United States and Canada where you can file lawsuits, and they leave it on the market around the world, where you can’t file lawsuits [easily] in third world countries. But now we have put enough pressure on them so they finally have taken the talc powder off the market worldwide.”
Last year, the company claimed it would start using cornstarch in all baby powder sold around the world, as opposed to talc powder.
And in April, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $8.9 billion to settle the lawsuits that alleged its talcum-based powder caused cancer, the company said in a statement at the time. The nearly $9 billion figure arose after the company initially set aside $2 billion for litigation costs in October 2021. “All current and future talc claims” would be covered, the statement reads, which is payable over the next 25 years.
“We empathize with anyone suffering from cancer and understand that people are looking for answers,” wrote Clare Boyle, Director of Global Corporate Affairs at Johnson & Johnson in a statement to PEOPLE. “We believe those answers can be better understood through science. Over 40 years of studies by independent medical experts around the world supports that cosmetic talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”
She continued: “The mesothelioma plaintiffs bar does a grave disservice to cancer victims by persuading them that cosmetic talc is the cause of their cancer. Indeed, earlier this month, an appellate court rejected the opinions of the purported “experts” upon which the mesothelioma lawyer base their case were unsound, unsubstantiated and unscientific.
That marks the third appellate court in three years to find the mesothelioma plaintiffs bar claims are baseless. It is time for those lawyers to stop the deception, and to afford victims the opportunity to discern the truth.”
A subsidiary, LTL Management LLC, re-filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a plan that would “efficiently resolve all claims arising from cosmetic talc litigation against the Company and its affiliates in North America.” According to the BBC, the company currently faces over 40,000 lawsuits.
“They are trying to pay a lot of victims a little bit of money and not allow the claims to be tried on the merits of the case. Under that plan, the victims would only be entitled anywhere between $50,000 — and at most $500,000 — when your medical expenses and lost wages exceed that,” says Satterley.
“All Defendants are individually liable for their defective products and wrongful products,” the recent suit alleges. “For many years, defendants and/or their predecessors have manufactured, sold, distributed, designed, formulated, developed standards for, prepared, processed, assembled, tested, listed, certified, marketed, advertised, packaged, labeled, and/or otherwise placed into the stream of commerce products that contain asbestos, specifically Johnson’s Baby Powder talc.”
The suit also claims that all defendants failed to place any warnings on their products or even disclose the fact that their products allegedly contained asbestos. “At any point, up to and including present day,” the lawsuit states. “Despite the clear hazard and direct information that their products did contain asbestos.”
The company has said assertions about its talc powder are questionable, a point highlighted by Erik Haas, the Worldwide Vice President of Litigation at Johnson & Johnson. Haas said: “The company continues to believe that these claims are specious and lack scientific merit.”
Hickey grew up in Ireland before moving to California, where he lived until the time of his death. He was laid to rest in Dublin.
After learning from his mom in May that his dad was dying, Angus took 4 days off from shooting an untitled Universal monster horror film to visit his father in Oakland. He decorated a pillow for his father using white block letters and a yin-yang sign that read: “I <3 U POPS.” The following morning, he died.
Two months later, the grieving actor visited the gravesite where his grandparents were buried in Glasnevin on the north side of Dublin to spread his father’s ashes, saying, “His heart was overflowing with the love to share, running into the waves, heart filling with the ocean. His smiles and laughs will live on with us forever.” On July 14, Angus also posted a tribute to his father on Instagram, which he simply captioned, “Miss u breh.”
“He absolutely loved his father,” Lisa told PEOPLE in September. “He also knew he really loved him. He was so proud of Angus. My son thought of Pops as his best friend. There is no doubt that his father’s death took a toll on him.”
According to the suit, Angus’s father struggled with his condition and the cancer caused “physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, emotional distress, and other similar harm. And the mesothelioma caused Plaintiff’s untimely death.”
Lisa shared a tribute to her late husband on Facebook on June 2, two days after his memorial service. “Thanks to all of you for your messages about Conor’s passing,” she wrote alongside a heartfelt photo of him.
“My fella lived large and loud! His cancer moved quickly, which was devastating to all who loved him, but there is comfort in the fact that his pain wasn’t prolonged. He is the love of my life. He was an incredible father to his three children, and a great support to many many others as well.”
The family is seeking all economic, compensatory and punitive damages, pre-and-post judgement interest, cost of the lawsuit and “such other relief as is fair, just and equitable,” the suit states. The plaintiffs are also requesting a trial by jury.