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06/01/2021

Supreme Court rejects Johnson & Johnson appeal of US$2B talc verdict

CPG says it was treated unfairly in one trial involving women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from the talc products
A store shelf lined with Johnson & Johnson talc products
Shutterstock/Raihana Asral

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a US$2 billion verdict in favour of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talc products.

The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting Johnson & Johnson's appeal. The company argued it was not 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 the company's talc products contained asbestos and 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 Associated Press said they did not think E. Edward Kavanaugh's role required his son to step aside from the case.

Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has stopped selling its iconic talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada, though it remains on the market elsewhere.