Supreme Court Move Means J&J Owes Women $2B

Company wanted justices to review decision over talc-based baby powder, but they declined
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2021 9:10 AM CDT
Supreme Court Won't Save J&J From Huge Penalty
A container of Johnson's Baby Powder.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who say they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talc products, per the AP. The justices didn't comment Tuesday in rejecting Johnson & Johnson's appeal. The company argued that it wasn't treated fairly in facing one trial involving 22 cancer sufferers who came from 12 states and different backgrounds. A Missouri jury initially awarded the women $4.7 billion, but a state appeals court dropped two women from the suit and reduced the award to $2 billion. The jury found that the company’s talc products contain asbestos and that asbestos-laced talc can cause ovarian cancer. The company disputes both points.

Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the court's action. Alito owns $15,000 to $50,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock. Kavanaugh's father headed the trade association that lobbied against labeling talc a carcinogen and including a warning label on talc products. Ethicists contacted by the AP said they didn't think E. Edward Kavanaugh's role required his son to step aside from the case. Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, NJ, has stopped selling its iconic talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in the US and Canada, though it remains on the market elsewhere.

(More Johnson & Johnson stories.)

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