The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will not review a lower court opinion that awarded a $2 billion verdict to a group of women who brought a product liability lawsuit against Johnson & Jonson saying they developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talcum powder products.
According to a CNN news report, J&J had asked the nation’s highest court to review a June 2020 decision from a Missouri appeals court. The ruling had reduced a lower court’s decision in which a jury awarded 22 plaintiffs $4.7 billion.
J&J Knew About Danger of Talc
The company had asked the appellate court to throw out the verdict altogether. Instead, the appeals court cut the verdict to $2.1 billion since some of the women who brought the lawsuit lived out of state. It also eliminated two of the plaintiffs. It otherwise upheld the trial’s outcome since the court found “significant reprehensibility in (J&J’s) conduct” and that the company exposed consumers to asbestos over several decades without care or concern for the health and safety of consumers.
During the trial, plaintiffs’ lawyers introduced internal memos that showed J&J had discussed the presence of asbestos in their talcum powder products for decades, showing that they in fact knew their products had the potential to be contaminated with the dangerous carcinogen.
The plaintiffs told the appeals court that J&J knew about the danger of asbestos and yet tried to discredit scientists who were publishing studies that pointed out this danger, and that the company made the conscious decision to not switch out talc in its powder for cornstarch because it was costlier and could affect their profits.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
So far, tens of thousands of women have brought similar lawsuits against J&J and other talcum powder companies. J&J had sold the talc-based powder, Johnson’s Baby Powder, for more than 100 years and created several other products using talc such as Shower to Shower, which the company consciously promoted among women for feminine hygiene.
Because talc is among one of the softest minerals and has a superior ability to absorb oils and odor, it is used in a number of cosmetic products. Also, because talc mines are commonly found along with asbestos, they have the potential to be contaminated with asbestos. Several scientific studies have shown that women do have an increased risk of ovarian cancer with talc use in the genital area. A separate set of lawsuits has also tied the talc products to mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is caused by inhaling asbestos particles.
As product defect lawyers who are representing plaintiffs who have developed cancers as a result of using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products, we are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take this case and that plaintiffs who have suffered tremendous losses because of J&J’s reckless disregard for their health and well-being will be fairly compensated for their losses.