J&J Asks Supreme Court to Overturn $2 Billion Talk Cancer Ruling

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Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is asking the United States Supreme Court to reverse the $2 billion judgment against the company in favor of women who said the company’s talc products contain asbestos and can cause ovarian cancer.

The nation’s supreme court could say as soon as Tuesday whether it itself will be involved.

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The case concerns former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who represents the women who have sued Johnson & Johnson. Starr was investigating former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, which led to Clinton’s impeachment.

After a six-week trial at St. Louis Circuit Court in 2018, a jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women who used J&J talc products and developed ovarian cancer.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison later wrote that the evidence presented at the trial showed “particularly impropriety” on the part of the defendants.

Women claim that Johnson & Johnson baby powder contains talc, which can cause ovarian cancer.
Women claim that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contains talc, which can cause ovarian cancer.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Burlison wrote that “defendants were aware of the presence of asbestos in products they deliberately wanted to sell to mothers and babies, knew of the harm their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.”

J&J appealed the jury’s verdict, and last year an appeals court in Missouri rejected the company’s request to overturn the verdict, but did not. reduce the verdict to about $2.1 billion because some women came from out of state.

Kenneth Starr represents the women who are suing J&J in the case.
Kenneth Starr represents the women who are suing J&J in the case.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The lawsuit is one of many filed on behalf of thousands of women claiming that J&J’s talc-based products, such as baby powder, contributed to their ovarian cancer. Other suits have claimed the products caused mesothelioma.

The company has denied that its products are associated with cancer, although it says announced last year that it would stop selling are talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada.

It said at the time that the decision to discontinue the product was due to falling demand “fueled by misinformation about the product’s safety and a constant barrage of legal advertising.”

Last year, a US-led analysis of 250,000 women found no strong evidence that baby powder is associated with ovarian cancer, though the study’s lead author called the results “highly ambiguous.”

An editorial published in January 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association called the findings “generally reassuring.” The study was not definitive, but conclusive research is unlikely to be feasible due to a decline in the number of women using the products, the editorial said.

With Post wires

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