Chair of California Fairness For Patients Initiative Featured In Oprah Special Celebrating Black Fatherhood


Chair of California Fairness For Patients Initiative Featured In Oprah Special Celebrating Black Fatherhood

Charles Johnson Shares His Fight for Change After Wife’s Preventable Childbirth Death


WHAT: In a special that airs tonight, Oprah Winfrey interviews Charles Johnson, Chair of the Fairness for Patients Act on the November 2022 California ballot, who was driven to fight for justice and safer Black maternal health care after the preventable loss of his wife in childbirth.

Five years ago, Johnson’s 39-year old wife Kira Dixon Johnson died after giving birth to their second son at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles when her bladder was lacerated during a C-section. Her symptoms were negligently ignored for 10 hours while she bled out and as her family pleaded for help.

“When my sons ask, I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them I did everything in my power to prevent what happened to their mom from happening to one more family,” said Charles Johnson, Campaign Chair for the Fairness for Patients Act. “The Fairness Act is about fixing a system that denies families, especially families of color, answers and accountability when they suffer gross medical negligence.”
WHEN: Tuesday, June 15 at 9PM Eastern/Pacific

The special, Honoring Our Kings: Celebrating Black Fatherhood hosted by Oprah and Sterling K. Brown, airs on OWN TV and will run again on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20.


BACKGROUND: Charles Johnson joined the Fairness for Patients Act as Campaign Chair in 2019 after learning about California’s outdated medical negligence laws that prevent families from getting justice after tragedies like his.

Johnson founded the non-profit 4Kira4Moms in the wake of his loss and helped pass the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, the first-ever Congressional legislation to prevent mothers from dying in childbirth. This year’s Kira Johnson Act is part of the 13-bill Momnibus package of Congressional legislation addressing the devastating aspects of the maternal death crisis.

The Fairness Act would adjust for inflation the maximum $250,000 compensation cap on quality of life and survivor damages for victims of medical negligence set by the California legislature in 1975. The cap has never been increased and is worth just $50,000 in 1975 dollars. Injured patients with capped cases cannot find attorneys, because the case will cost as much to litigate as the family can ever hope to recover.

If passed, the initiative would also allow judges and jurors to decide that compensation above $250,000 is appropriate in cases of catastrophic injury or death, and require juries to be informed about the existence of the cap. Learn more:

Women of color are disproportionately harmed by California’s outdated limits on compensation for patients injured by medical negligence.  Systemic inequities in our health care system mean women of color receive lower quality health care, contend with worse health outcomes, and experience more medical negligence.

Black women in California are 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than all other women, and Black infants’ mortality rate is more than double that of all infants in California. The cap then deprives their families of justice when they seek answers and accountability.