Supreme Court dismisses Johnson & Johnson’s appeal for $ 2 billion fine for baby powder

Supreme Court dismisses Johnson & Johnson’s appeal for $ 2 billion fine for baby powder


In this photo illustration, a container of Johnson baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a table on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by Johnson & johnson Seeking to overturn $ 2.1 billion in compensation against her for allegations that asbestos in its talc-based products, including baby powder, caused ovarian cancer in women.

The superior court announced in a order without dissent noted that he will not hear the case. Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves from considering the case, according to the order.

Johnson & Johnson had asked the highest court to review the penalty against it after the amount was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court last year. A state appeals court previously reduced the sentence against Johnson & Johnson by more than $ 4 billion.

The dispute featured fierce legal firepower on both sides, with former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal arguing on behalf of the New Brunswick and New Jersey-based pharmaceutical maker and Ken Starr, former Whitewater attorney representing women with ovarian cancer who sued the company.

Johnson & johnson said he stopped selling its talc-based baby powder to hit the US and Canada in May 2020, citing reduced demand “fueled by misinformation around product safety and a constant barrage of litigation publicity.”

The company said it faced more than 21,800 lawsuits against it for its talc-based products.

Starr wrote in his brief urging judges not to consider the case that Johnson & Johnson “had known for decades that their talcum powders contained asbestos, a highly carcinogenic substance with no known safe level of exposure.”

“They could have protected their customers by switching from talc to cornstarch, as their own scientists had proposed as early as 1973. But talc was cheaper and the petitioners were unwilling to sacrifice profits for a more product. sure, ”he wrote.

In contrast, Katyal argued that “federal regulators and respected health organizations have rejected calls for talc warnings, and comprehensive epidemiological studies of tens of thousands of talc users have found no association significant difference between the use of cosmetic talc and ovarian cancer “.

Katyal said lawyers for those who sued Johnson & Johnson had searched the country “for women who had both been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and among the millions who used the talc products of the petitioners ”.

“They have brought dozens of plaintiffs to the stand to discuss their experiences with cancer, and the jury awards billions of dollars in punitive damages meant to punish the petitioners,” he wrote. “Lawyers can then follow that scenario and file the same claims with new plaintiffs and seek outrageous new compensation over and over again.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said the Supreme Court ruling left important legal questions unresolved.

“The cases before the court relate to legal process and not to security,” the company said. “Decades of independent scientific evaluations confirm that Johnson’s baby powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.”

Starr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Johnson & Johnson shares fell more than 1% on Tuesday morning.

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