Johnson & Johnson must pay $2.1 billion talc baby powder award as Supreme Court rejects appeal

Johnson & Johnson must pay a $2.1 billion award to women who claimed its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos, after the U.S. Supreme Court left intact the largest verdict in the almost decadelong litigation over the iconic product. The top U.S. court without comment on Tuesday refused to consider J&J’s objections to a St. Louis jury’s 2018 finding that its talc-based powder helped cause ovarian cancer in 20 women. J&J prepared for the appeal’s denial by announcing in February it was setting aside almost $4 billion to cover the St. Louis verdict. The company still faces more than 25,000 lawsuits blaming baby powder for causing cancers. J&J pulled the product off U.S. and Canadian shelves last year. 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 U.S. legal history. The original verdict sparked a significant drop in J&J’s shares. J&J has lost other cases at trial, with juries across the U.S. ordering it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars. Judges slashed some of those awards while others have been thrown out or are on appeal. J&J has won cases as well. Asbestos, which is often found where talc is mined, is a recognized carcinogen. The women also contended that J&J showed years of deceit about its product and disregard for the health of its customers and argued that warranted the punitive damage award.

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