The United States Supreme Court refused, Tuesday 1is June, to take up an appeal from the American pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson, validating its conviction to pay $ 2.1 billion in damages for the sale of its talc, accused of having caused cancer.
In accordance with custom, the highest American court has not justified its decision, which puts an end to years of proceedings and could have an impact on other class actions (or class actions). The hygiene products company has been the subject of thousands of complaints in recent years, accusing its talcum powder of containing asbestos and causing ovarian cancer.
The pharmaceutical company has been convicted on several occasions, notably in 2018 by a jury which had consolidated several cases and ordered it to pay $ 4.7 billion in damages to twenty-two plaintiffs. In June 2020, a Missouri appeals court reduced this amount, considering that some plaintiffs, having no ties to the state in question, should not have been included in the trial. But she had felt that the group had “Knowingly sold to consumers products containing asbestos”, arousing a strong “Physical, mental and emotional anguish”.
Withdrawn from sale in the United States and Canada
Johnson & Johnson then appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court which had refused to take it up, then to the highest court in the country which therefore did the same on Tuesday. The group had argued that the class action including plaintiffs from other states violated its rights and contested the amount deemed punitive of the sums awarded.
The Supreme Court’s decision “Leaves open important legal questions that state and federal courts will continue to face”, reacted the company, Tuesday. It is not related to the “Product safety”, insisted Johnson & Johnson. While continuing to proclaim its innocence, the firm had nonetheless stopped, in May 2020, selling this talc-based powder in the United States and Canada, countries where sales declined due to changing habits. and mistrust of the product.