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Supreme Courtroom rejects Johnson & Johnson’s enchantment of $2 billion penalty in child powder most cancers case

On this picture illustration, a container of Johnson’s child powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a desk on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Photos

The Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday turned again an enchantment from Johnson & Johnson in search of to undo a $2.1 billion award in opposition to it over allegations that asbestos in its talc powder merchandise, together with child powder, brought on girls to develop ovarian most cancers.

The highest court docket introduced in an order with no famous dissents that it’ll not hear the case. Justice Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves from consideration of the case, in response to the order.

Johnson & Johnson had requested the highest court docket to assessment the penalty in opposition to it after the quantity was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Courtroom final 12 months. A state appeals court docket earlier decreased the penalty in opposition to Johnson & Johnson from greater than $4 billion.

The dispute featured fierce authorized firepower on each side, with former appearing solicitor normal Neal Katyal arguing on behalf of the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical maker and Ken Starr, the previous Whitewater prosecutor, representing girls with ovarian most cancers who sued the corporate.

Johnson & Johnson said it stopped selling its talc-based child powder in the US and Canada in Could 2020, citing decreased demand “fueled by misinformation across the security of the product and a relentless barrage of litigation promoting.”

The corporate had mentioned that it’s dealing with greater than 21,800 lawsuits in opposition to it over its talc merchandise.

Starr wrote in his temporary urging the justices to not assessment the case that Johnson and Johnson “knew for many years that their talc powders contained asbestos, a extremely carcinogenic substance with no recognized secure publicity stage.”

“They might have protected prospects by switching from talc to cornstarch, as their very own scientists proposed as early as 1973. However talc was cheaper and petitioners have been unwilling to sacrifice earnings for a safer product,” he wrote.

In distinction, Katyal argued that “federal regulators and revered well being organizations have rejected requires warnings on talc, and complete epidemiological research monitoring tens of 1000’s of talc customers have discovered no significant affiliation between beauty talc use and ovarian most cancers.”

Katyal mentioned that attorneys for many who had sued Johnson & Johnson had searched the nation “for ladies who have been each recognized with ovarian most cancers and among the many hundreds of thousands who used Petitioners’ talc merchandise.”

“They put dozens of plaintiffs on the stand to debate their experiences with most cancers, and the jury awards billions of {dollars} in punitive damages supposedly to punish Petitioners,” he wrote. “Attorneys can then comply with this script and file the identical claims with new plaintiffs and search new outsized awards, over and over.”

In a press release on Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson mentioned that the Supreme Courtroom’s choice left essential authorized questions unresolved.

“The issues that have been earlier than the court docket are associated to authorized process, and never security,” the corporate mentioned. “Many years of impartial scientific evaluations verify Johnson’s Child Powder is secure, doesn’t include asbestos, and doesn’t trigger most cancers.”

Starr didn’t instantly return a request for remark.

Johnson and Johnson shares have been down greater than 1% on Tuesday morning.

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