J&J Asks Supreme Court for Help in Talc Verdict

Company wants a review of $2B decision
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2021 9:40 AM CDT
J&J Asks Supreme Court for Help in Talc Verdict
A bottle of Johnson's baby powder.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Johnson & Johnson is asking the Supreme Court to review a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using the company's talc products, per the AP. The case features an array of high-profile attorneys, some in unusual alliances, including former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who is representing the women who sued Johnson & Johnson. The nation's largest business groups are backing the company. The court could say as soon as Tuesday whether it will get involved. Essentially, J&J argues the company didn't get a fair shake in a trial in state court in Missouri that resulted in an initial $4.7 billion verdict in favor of 22 women who used talc products and developed ovarian cancer.

A state appeals court cut more than half the money out of the verdict and eliminated two of the plaintiffs but otherwise upheld the outcome in a trial in which lawyers for both sides presented dueling expert testimony about whether the company's talc products contain asbestos and asbestos-laced talc can cause ovarian cancer. The jury found for the women on both points, after which Judge Rex M. Burlison wrote that evidence at the trial showed “particularly reprehensible conduct on the part of Defendants." Nine of the women have died from ovarian cancer, lawyers for the plaintiffs said. J&J denies that its talc products cause cancer and it called the verdict in the Missouri trial “at odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, is not contaminated by asbestos and does not cause cancer.”

(More Johnson & Johnson stories.)

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