On November 3, 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court refused the request by drug maker and consumer giant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), to review a lower court ruling that awarded 22 women $2.1 billion in damages.
The women had two things in common: they developed ovarian cancer, which they alleged was caused by using talc-based J&J Baby Powder and/or Shower To Shower products. The plaintiffs alleged that the talc was tainted with carcinogenic asbestos, a mineral that’s mined in close proximity to talc. The lawsuits also accused J&J of hiding the fact from regulators and consumers that the finished talc was sometimes contaminated with asbestos.
As expected, J&J, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the $2.1 billion verdict. The petition was filed March 2. According to MesoWatch.com, in an accompanying press release, J&J asserted that the trial was “fundamentally flawed” and yielded an “incorrect verdict and arbitrary and disproportionate damages.”
J&J added in the release that the Ingham verdict, named after one of the 22 plaintiffs, is “at odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, is not contaminated by asbestos and does not cause cancer.”
Among the reasons why J&J believes the $2.1 verdict is worthy of review by the highest court in the land, the company contends that it was fundamentally unfair for all of the plaintiffs in the case to be joined together in a mass trial, MesoWatch.com reports. J&J further elaborated this point in the press release, arguing that such trials “obscure difficult causation questions.”
Furthermore, J&J alleges in the release that the mass trial process effectively creates a “perfect plaintiff” by combining the most dramatic features of different cases to achieve maximum effect.
Because of the fact that the 22 women each presented with widely varying degrees of cancer and history of talc use, J&J believes each plaintiff’s claim should have been filed individually.
However, as MesoWatch.com points out, J&J argued these same points in the lower court verdict, which found that the plaintiffs’ allegations “arose out of the same basic injuries, same defect, same alleged duty, and same causes of action.”
No word yet on when the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not to accept J&J’s request.