The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting Johnson & Johnson’s appeal. The company argued that it was not treated fairly in facing one trial involving 22 cancer sufferers who came from 12 states and different backgrounds.
A Missouri jury initially awarded the women $4.7 billion, but a state appeals court dropped two women from the suit and reduced the award to $2 billion. The jury found that the company’s talc products contained asbestos and asbestos-laced talc can cause ovarian cancer. The company disputes both points.
Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has stopped selling its iconic talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, though it remains on the market elsewhere.
Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the court’s action. Alito owns $15,000 to $50,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock. Kavanaugh’s father headed the trade association that lobbied against labeling talc a carcinogen and including a warning label on talc products.
Ethicists contacted by The Associated Press said they did not think E. Edward Kavanaugh’s role required his son to step aside from the case.