The Supreme Court refused to hear Johnson & Johnson's appeal of a 2018 decision that their baby powder cause ovarian cancer in more than 20 women. The company is ordered to pay $2.1 billion.
Johnson & Johnson has refuted charges that its Baby Powder and Shower Shimmer Effects products contain carcinogens that cause cancer.
J&J found guilty of several lawsuits
In an email to Bloomberg, J&J spokesperson Kim Montagnino said, "The court's decision not to reconsider the case leaves substantial legal concerns unsettled that state and federal courts will continue to consider. The Supreme Court has stated several times that its refusal to consider a matter indicates no opinion on the merits."
In February, the company disclosed in a securities filing that it had set aside $3.9 billion in litigation expenses, primarily connected with talc-related reserves and some settlements.
25,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson by baby powder users who believe asbestos poisoning caused their cancer.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is found in talc mining.
In the St. Louis case, jurors awarded each woman $25 million in compensation. The tribunal then added more than $4 billion in punitive damages, making it the sixth-largest judgment in US judicial history. Last year, a state appeals court reduced the award by more than half.
J&J's stock dropped dramatically after the initial decision.
J&J has been found guilty in other lawsuits, with juries throughout the US ordering the company to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Some of the awards were reduced by judges, while others were thrown out or are being appealed.
J&J has also won some suits.
The dismissal of the appeal was made without the participation of Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh.
Although Alito's most recent financial disclosure report stated either he or his wife owned J&J shares, neither supplied an explanation, as is customary. Kavanaugh's father worked as a lobbyist for the cosmetics business, and his group battled efforts to impose talc product warnings.
Drugmaker giant J&J claims the verdict is unfair
The vast nature of the St. Louis case, according to J&J, made the trial so unfair that it violated the Constitution's due process provision. The lawsuit initially merged the claims of over two dozen plaintiffs from 12 different states.
According to the manufacturer, the trial judge took five hours to instruct the jury. The panel spent less than 20 minutes on average deliberating for each woman before giving each the same sum regardless of their circumstances.
The company has discontinued using talc in baby powder in the United States and Canada since May 2020. However, it denies that this was because of the lawsuits. Instead, Johnson & Johnson claims a lack of demand fueled by misinformation about the product's safety and a relentless onslaught of lawsuit advertising caused the discontinuation.
In a statement to CNBC, the business declared the issues before the court were about legal procedure rather than safety.
Per The Independent, the statement says, "decades of independent scientific evaluations affirm Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer."
The Supreme Court did not address the state court's decision or Johnson & Johnson's allegation that it was not treated fairly when 22 cancer patients from 12 states were grouped in one trial.