Supreme Court denies Johnson & Johnson bid to void $2 billion talc verdict

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down an appeal by Johnson & Johnson to void a $2 billion judgment for women who claimed the company’s talc-based products caused ovarian cancer.

The move came in an unsigned order and leaves intact a Missouri state court verdict against the multinational giant. Justices Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol No reason to pack the court Justice or just desserts? Trump, Cosby and Georgia cases show rising cost of political litigation MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOn The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Biden calls on Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration An obscure Supreme Court ruling is a cautionary tale of federal power MORE took no part in the consideration of the petition. 

The hefty verdict was the culmination of numerous U.S. lawsuits brought by women who claimed that Johnson & Johnson products contained asbestos and other carcinogens and that the company ignored the health risks.

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Johnson & Johnson in May 2020 stopped using talc in its baby powder, but the company disputes that its products caused cancer.

The initial verdict was for $4.7 billion, but a Missouri appellate court dropped two women from the suit, leaving 20 plaintiffs, and lowering the award to just over $2 billion.

The company appealed to the Supreme Court in March. 

Alito and Kavanaugh did not explain their reasons for recusing. According to The Associated Press, the rationale may have been driven by Alito’s ownership of between $15,000 to $50,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock, as well as Kavanaugh’s father’s previous role lobbying against labeling talc a carcinogen.

--Updated at 10:43 a.m.