With a refusal to consider an appeal of a groundbreaking asbestos decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ended a long and emotional journey for 20 women and their families who blamed Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for their ovarian cancer. Though the original verdict of over $4 billion was halved by a St. Louis appeals court, the victims will be paid a total of $2.1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages.
Mesothelioma Victims Hopeful After Johnson & Johnson Decision
Though the lawsuit at the heart of the appeal was filed by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder products has been blame for many types of cancer, including malignant mesothelioma. The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case is not a legal comment on the case’s merits, but the refusal to hear the appeal has given renewed hope to plaintiffs in over 26,000 cases pending against the company.
Johnson & Johnson’s and other talc product companies have been accused of negligence in selling products they knew to be contaminated with asbestos, the mineral that causes malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other serious illnesses. The St. Louis trial that was the subject of the appeal was filed by almost two dozen women from 12 different states, all of whom had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after years of using the iconic product.
Deceit About Talc Product Called “Particularly Reprehensible Conduct”
The original decision made by a St. Louis jury awarded each woman $25 million in compensatory damages and an additional total of $4 billion in punitive damages. Though that award was halved by a state appeals court, the court refused to throw out the verdict, with the judge in the case saying Johnson & Johnson’s marketing had reflected “particularly reprehensible conduct” and that the evidence had shown that the company “knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.”
Johnson & Johnson continues to deny their role in ovarian cancer and mesothelioma diagnoses in consumers that used its products, but also announced in February that it had set aside nearly $4 billion to cover the amount it anticipated having to pay plaintiffs, and discontinued sales of all talc-based products in North America.