Missouri Supreme Court Rejects Talc Verdict Appeal

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Johnson & Johnson intends to appeal a record $2.1 billion talc verdict to the highest court in the land after striking out in the Missouri Supreme Court.

The state high court on Nov. 3 refused to hear J&J’s appeal, letting stand the multibillion dollar jury verdict, the largest award on record to women who claimed that talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer, according to reports in Law.com and Law360.

In 2018, a Missouri jury found that J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talcum powder had led to ovarian cancer in the 22 female plaintiffs and even death in some cases.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen with no safe levels of exposure.

Johnson & Johnson’s appeal is the latest in a series of attempts to dodge a crushing verdict that its attorneys argued was based on a “fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts.”

“The verdict is also at odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer,” a company spokesperson said, per Law360.

However, a 9-month Daubert review found the plaintiffs’ experts were credible researchers and used scientifically approved methods to reach valid results about the harms of J&J’s product.

“The trial jury sent a loud message alerting the world to the dangers of talc,” said Mark Lanier, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, as Law.com reported. “Now that message has been confirmed through each level the state’s appellate system.”

The latest legal blow to Johnson & Johnson comes amid a rash of concerns about the safety of its talcum powder. Earlier this year, a lengthy probe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found asbestos in some talc samples from the company. In 2019, J&J issued a voluntary recall of 30,000 bottles of talcum powder after a single lot was found to be tainted with asbestos.

Separate investigations by Reuters and The New York Times in 2018 revealed that J&J had known since the 1970s about possible asbestos contamination of its talc products, yet failed to warn consumers.

Johnson & Johnson stopped sales of talc-based Baby Powder in the United States and Canada earlier this year.

J&J said it intends to seek justice from the U.S. Supreme Court to decide once and for all whether the company should be held responsible for the contamination of its talcum products.

By James Parker

James Parker is a news writer and fact-checker from Coral Springs, Florida. He majored in Communication and Media Studies at Stetson University, where he spent much of his time examining the role of optics in various fields. When not covering the latest medical or legal development, James works on personal writing projects and board game design.

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