US Supreme Court declines J&J bid to overturn $2bn baby powder ruling
The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Johnson & Johnson's bid to overturn a $2.12bn damages award to women who allege that their ovarian cancer was caused by the company's baby powder and other talc products.
The justices left in place the earlier ruling from the Missouri state court on the litigation brought against the company by the 22 affected women.
Earlier in 2020, the Missouri Court of Appeals had thrown out J&J's attempt to reverse the compensatory and punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs by a previous ruling, although it did reduce the total amount of damages awarded from the $4.69bn originally decided by a jury to $2.12bn.
That was followed in November by the Missouri Supreme Court's, the state's highest court, decision not to hear an appeal from J&J of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruling, prompting the company to appeal again, this time to the US Supreme Court.
The Missouri Court of Appeals concluded that it was reasonable to infer from the evidence that J&J "disregarded the safety of consumers" in its drive for profit, despite knowing its talc products caused ovarian cancer. It also found "significant reprehensibility" in J&J's conduct.
J&J said in court papers that it faced more than 19,000 other cases that might be impacted by the outcome of the current case.
According to Reuters, the company also argued that the jury had awarded punitive damages that were much larger than the "already staggering" compensatory damages, which J&J called a further violation of its due process rights.
A 2018 Reuters investigation found that J&J had known for decades that asbestos, a carcinogen, was present in its talc products. Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence showed that until the early 2000s, some of their products sometimes tested positive for small amounts of that material.
The company said in May 2020 it would stop selling its baby powder talc in the United States and Canada while claiming that there was misinformation circulating regarding the product.