The US Supreme Court has rejected Johnson & Johnson’s appeal against a $2.1 billion damages award to women who claimed their ovarian cancer was a result of asbestos in the US pharmaceutical giant’s talcum powder.
The court’s decision not to hear the case means the earlier jury award, granted to 22 women in the US state of Missouri in 2018 after a class action lawsuit against J&J, still stands.
The case against J&J is the largest in its history, with the claimants originally awarded $4.7 billion in damages from the company, before the amount was reduced on appeal. Nine of the plaintiffs have died from ovarian cancer since they first launched their legal action, their lawyers said.
Last year the company said it would no longer sell its famous Baby Powder in the US and Canada after a 60% decline in sales.
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Lawyers acting for J&J argued that due process was not being followed by allowing several claims related to its Baby Powder to be heard before the same jury at once.
The company said in a statement to Bloomberg on Tuesday that the high court’s decision not to review the case “leaves unresolved significant legal questions that state and federal courts will continue to face.”
J&J has denied allegations its Baby Powder and Shower Shimmer Effects products contained asbestos and caused cancer.
Two conservative justices of the nine-member Supreme Court excused themselves from the case due to potential conflicts of interests. Samuel Alito previously owned a stake in J&J, while Brett Kavanaugh’s father worked with a trade association linked to the company.
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