Johnson & Johnson is asking the Supreme Court to review its $2 billion verdict in favor of women claiming they developed ovarian cancer using J&J’s talc products.
Johnson & Johnson argues that the company didn’t get a fair shake in a trial in state court in Missouri. This trial where 22 women who claimed they developed ovarian cancer from using the talc products ended in an initial $4.7 billion verdict. This amount was cut in half. Testimonial arguments included proving that the company’s talc products contain asbestos and asbestos-laced talc.
Judge Rex M. Burlison wrote that evidence at the trial showed that J&J knew there was asbestos in products aimed at mothers and babies, knew of the potential harm, and “misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.”
Johnson & Johnson denies that its talc products cause cancer. The cosmetics industry in 1976 agreed to make sure its talc products do not contain detectable amounts of asbestos. Talc is similar in structure to asbestos which is known to cause cancer and is sometimes mined from the same mines.
A U.S. government-led analysis of 250,000 women found no strong evidence linking baby powder with ovarian cancer. The study wasn’t definitive and probably will not be conclusive as less and less women are using powder for personal hygiene.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and trade associations for manufacturers, insurers and the pharmaceutical industry are among business organizations backing Johnson & Johnson’s appeal.
Tiger Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, questioned the length of time it took for the judge to read jury instructions.
The justice’s father, E. Edward Kavanaugh, who was the longtime president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association now called Personal Care Products Council supports J&J.
Several judges have stepped down from the case.
– BCNN1 Staff