The Supreme Court Declined to Review Johnson & Johnson’s $2.1 Billion Talc Verdict

Talcum Powder | Goldberg, Persky, and White P.C.

The Supreme Court Declined to Review Johnson & Johnson’s $2.1 Billion Talc Verdict

The Supreme Court is not reviewing a lower court decision awarding $2 billion to women with ovarian cancer resulting from exposure to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder contaminated with asbestos. Lately, there have been many lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other companies that sold talc products because of asbestos contamination. Baby powder, the main talc-based product sold by Johnson & Johnson, has been a staple for the company for more than 100 years. Talc is great at reducing friction and absorbing oil and odor but is very easily contaminated with asbestos when mined.

Johnson & Johnson wanted the Supreme Court to review a June 2020 court decision from a Missouri appeals court where 22 plaintiffs were awarded $4.7 billion. The women claimed they ended up with ovarian cancer after regularly using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. J&J wanted the court to throw out the lawsuit, but the appeals court cut the verdict from $4.7 billion to $2.1 billion because some of the women in the lawsuit were out of state. Two plaintiffs were also removed from the lawsuit, but everything else was upheld because the court found J&J’s conduct to be reprehensible since the company exposed many people to asbestos over multiple decades, disregarding the health and safety of others.

Internal documents shown during the trial proved that Johnson & Johnson knew that asbestos was in its products for decades. The company tried to discredit studies making J&J products look bad while still using talc instead of cornstarch because the switch would have cost too much. Johnson & Johnson still claims its baby powder is safe and asbestos free, but the company’s actions do not point to it believing talc based baby powder is safe since it decided in May 2020 to stop selling the product in the United States and Canada. It blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and said it would be prioritizing other products, but it never stopped selling talc-based baby powder in other countries.

There are mixed results with studies involving ovarian cancer and talc use in the genital area, so more research needs to be done. This does not mean that talc containing asbestos is safe or healthy. Asbestos exposure from baby powder or other products can lead to mesothelioma and lung cancer. Some lawsuits are targeting talc companies because of mesothelioma, claiming the products gave them this horrible cancer. Scientists testifying in court for these lawsuits found that asbestos was in the exact products people later diagnosed with mesothelioma used. Legally, talc products have had to be asbestos free since the 1970s, but this did not stop companies like Johnson & Johnson from hiding that asbestos was in their products for many years.

Were you diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer? You could be entitled to compensation. Contact us by calling 412-471-3980 or by filling out our contact form and one of our attorneys or staff members will get back to you as soon as possible to review your case.

Ariane de Vogue and Jen Christensen, “Supreme Court won’t review $2 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson in talc powder case” CNN (June 1, 2021). [Link]

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