The Missouri Supreme Court recently rejected a bid by the world’s largest pharmaceutical and cosmetics producer to overturn a monumental award in an asbestos cancer lawsuit handed down by jurors back in July 2018. The Court refused to hear an appeal stemming from a June decision from the state’s appeals court that upheld liability on the part of defendant Johnson & Johnson along with a substantial portion of the multibillion dollar verdict handed down by the jury in the trial court.
In 2018, a Missouri state court jury handed down $4.69 billion to 22 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that alleged Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder caused their cancer diagnosis, many of which were terminal. At trial, the jury was presented with evidence which showed that Johnson & Johnson knew as far back as the 1970s that the talcum powder used for its Baby Powder product was contaminated with asbestos fibers but chose not to disclose any warnings on the labels of its products for consumers.
The $4.69 billion verdict was eventually reduced by the Missouri state appeals court down to $2.12 billion but still upheld the jury’s verdict, saying that it was reasonable to infer from the evidence that Johnson & Johnson “disregarded the safety of consumers” for the sake of profit, despite knowing its talc products caused ovarian cancer. With the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, Johnson & Johnson’s last option to throw out the award lies with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which the company vowed it would do after news broke of the decision.