U.S. company John & Johnson (J&J) will have to pay a lump sum of $2.1 billion collectively to dozens of women who developed ovarian cancer from using its products after the Supreme Court rejected its appeal seeking to overturn the initial judgment.
On Tuesday, June 1, the Supreme Court rejected J&J’s appeal to overturn a judgment requiring it to compensate 21 U.S. women who developed ovarian cancer from the use of its talcum powder, which the plaintiffs claim contains asbestos, a highly carcinogenic substance.
The Supreme Court decided not to review the case, thus upholding the original ruling. Initially, the federal court lawsuit ordered the company to pay more than $4 billion, but in 2020, the amount was reduced to only $2.1 billion through an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The news is not minor. The company’s reputation took a hit, and it lost 1% of its shares after the Supreme Court ruling came out. Moreover, when it’s considered that J&J is one of the labs that developed an experimental vaccine against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus, the repercussions could worsen.
In mid-April, both the European Union, South Africa, and the United States halted vaccination with J&J because dozens of cases were reported of people developing blood clots, with some even dying as a result.
Ken Starr, the plaintiff attorney who represented the women, said the company knew “for decades that its talcum powder contained asbestos, a highly carcinogenic substance for which there is no known safe level of exposure.”
“They could have protected customers by switching from talc to cornstarch, as their own scientists proposed as early as 1973. But talc was cheaper and petitioners were unwilling to sacrifice profits for a safer product,” Dr. Starr said.
J&J stopped marketing its talc in the United States and Canada in 2020 due to the large influx of lawsuits. However, the company maintains its innocence by rejecting the allegations and claiming that its talc does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.
J&J has more than 21,800 lawsuits pending against it for its talcum powder products. Its legal representatives fear that the Supreme Court ruling will lead thousands and thousands of people across the country and around the world to step forward and file million-dollar lawsuits based on the precedent set by the Supreme Court decision.
Neal Katyal, a legal representative for the company, said lawyers for the people who had sued J&J had searched the country “for women who were both diagnosed with ovarian cancer and among the millions who used Petitioners’ talc products.”
“They put dozens of plaintiffs on the stand to discuss their experiences with cancer, and the jury awards billions of dollars in punitive damages supposedly to punish Petitioners,” he wrote. “Lawyers can then follow this script and file the same claims with new plaintiffs and seek new outsized awards, over and over again.”
According to The Defender, the company has a history of million-dollar lawsuits for its malpractices and unapproved or not properly proven uses that caused irreparable harm.
– In 1995, it was fined $7.5 million for destroying documents to cover up an investigation into the mismarketing of its Retin-A acne cream to eliminate wrinkles.
– In 2001, J&J paid $860 million in a class-action lawsuit for misleading customers about premature disposal of its Acuvue one-day soft contact lenses. J&J recommended one-time use, even though the lenses were no different from regular Acuvue lenses, which lasted two weeks.
– In 2010, it paid $81 million for misbranding its anti-epileptic drug Topamax to treat psychiatric disorders and hiring outside doctors to join its sales force to promote the drug for unapproved conditions. The following year, J&J paid $85 million for similar charges against its heart drug Natrecor.
– In 2011, several J&J baby products were found to contain carcinogenic ingredients.
– In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice charged the company $2.2 billion in criminal fines for marketing Risperdal, its autism drug, and antipsychotic for unapproved uses. Janssen (J&J) also conducted an aggressive marketing campaign for Risperdal for children with behavioral problems. Other serious adverse effects of Risperdal reported by the FDA (Food and Drug Regulator) include diabetes mellitus, hyperprolactinemia, somnolence, depression, anxiety, psychotic behavior, suicide, and death.