Johnson & Johnson to pay $ 2.1 billion in talcum powder as Supreme Court dismisses appeal
Johnson & Johnson to pay $ 2.1 billion in compensation to women who claimed their baby powder was contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos, after the U.S. Supreme Court left its biggest verdict untouched. the nearly ten-year procedure on the iconic product.
The highest U.S. court, without comment, on Tuesday declined to consider J & J’s objections to a 2018 St. Louis jury finding that its talcum powder helped cause ovarian cancer in 20 women.
J&J prepared for the dismissal of the appeal by announcing in February that it was setting aside nearly $ 4 billion to cover the St. Louis verdict. The company still faces more than 25,000 lawsuits accusing baby powder of causing cancer. J&J pulled the product from US and Canadian shelves last year.
J&J spokesperson Kim Montagnino did not immediately return an email Tuesday seeking comment on the Supreme Court’s decision not to appeal. Shares of New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J fell 1.1% at 9:59 a.m.
“Today, justice is served,” said Mark Lanier, the women’s lawyer. “Twenty families are now compensated for a horrible and unnecessary illness. And J&J, the trigger for this disease, is held responsible. “
Jurors in the St. Louis case awarded each woman $ 25 million in compensatory damages. The panel then added more than $ 4 billion in punitive damages, making the award the sixth-largest in US law history. A state appeals court cut the price by more than half last year. The initial verdict caused a significant drop in J&J shares.
J&J lost other cases at trial, with juries across the United States ordering him to pay hundreds of millions of dollars. The judges reduced some of these awards while others were dismissed or are on appeal. J&J has also won lawsuits.
Asbestos, which is often found where talc is extracted, is a known carcinogen.
Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the decision to dismiss the appeal. As usual, neither gave an explanation, although Alito’s latest financial disclosure report indicated that he or his wife owned J&J shares. Kavanaugh’s father was a cosmetics industry lobbyist whose organization fought efforts to demand warnings on talc products.
J&J told the Supreme Court that the sprawling nature of the St. Louis case – which originally combined the claims of nearly two dozen plaintiffs from 12 different states – made the trial so unfair it violated the due process clause of the Constitution.
The drugmaker said the trial judge needed five hours to instruct the jury and the jury deliberated less than 20 minutes on average for each woman before awarding each identical prize regardless of the circumstances. individual.
“If the due process clause means anything, it means that an accused cannot be deprived of billions of dollars without a fair trial,” J&J argued. Business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, supported the call.
J&J also argued that the punitive compensation exceeded the actual damages to the point of making it also unconstitutional. J&J referred to previous Supreme Court decisions that placed limits on punitive damages.
Lawyers for the women have said J&J is asking the court to do something unprecedented and to waive state rules governing when prosecutions can be consolidated for trial.
“Consolidation in tort cases is common, an essential practice to preserve the resources of courts and parties when common issues – such as product safety and the defendant’s knowledge of its danger – predominate, as they have. here, ”argued the group.
The women also argued that J&J’s years of deceiving its product and disregarding the health of its customers warranted awarding punitive damages.
The case is Johnson & Johnson v. Ingham, 20-1223.
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