US Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Refused to Hear Johnson & Johnson’s Appeal

On June 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of the $2.1 billion talcum powder verdict levied against them by a Missouri jury. 

Johnson & Johnson requested the U.S. Supreme Court hear their appeal and argued that their company did not get a fair trial when a Missouri jury awarded nearly $5 billion to 22 women who alleged that they developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talcum powder products. The jury found that J&J’s talcum powder products contained asbestos and substantially contributed to the plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer diagnoses. The $5 billion award was later reduced to $2.1 billion. 

Ken Starr, an attorney for the plaintiffs, wrote in his brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that the Court should not review the case because Johnson & Johnson “knew for decades that their talc powders contained asbestos, a highly carcinogenic substance with no known safe exposure level. They could have protected customers by switching from talc to cornstarch, as their own scientists proposed as early as 1973. But talc was cheaper and petitioners were unwilling to sacrifice profits for a safer product.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court did not give an explanation for not taking the case, and Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves from consideration of the case.

Johnson & Johnson’s Request to the U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson & Johnson argued that some women had genetic or family predisposition for cancer, while others did not. The company argued that putting the cases together confused the jury and blurred legal distinctions separate from each claim. 

Whether Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products cause cancer was not the issue the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to review. It had been asked to consider the company’s argument that Missouri courts unfairly combined cases of nearly two dozen women from several different states. 

Johnson & Johnson requested that the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case “to curb due-process abuses in mass-tort suits” and give corporate defendants the same rights to a fair trial as everyone else. Johnson & Johnson also thought that the amount of punitive damages was too far out of line with actual or monetary damages. 

In response to the Supreme Court’s June 1 order, Johnson & Johnson said: “The matters that were before the court are related to legal procedure, and not safety. Decades of independent scientific evaluations confirm Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.”

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products, contact the Ovarian Cancer Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. Our legal team has over 30 years of experience in providing clients the Gold standard of advocacy. Contact us today for a free consultation!


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