On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal from the American pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson, effectively validating its order to pay $ 2.1 billion in damages and interest for the sale of talc accused of have caused cancer.
The highest American court has not, by custom, justified its decision which puts an end to years of proceedings and could impact other class actions or “class actions”.
The hygiene products company has faced thousands of complaints in recent years accusing its talcum powder of containing asbestos and causing ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has always claimed that its baby powder does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.
On several occasions, she has been convicted, notably in 2018, by a jury that had consolidated several cases and ordered her to pay $ 4.7 billion in damages to 22 plaintiffs.
In June, a Missouri appeals court reduced that amount, ruling that some plaintiffs with no ties to the state should not have been included in the lawsuit.
But she had estimated that the group had “knowingly sold to consumers products containing asbestos”, causing an intense “physical, mental and emotional anguish”.
Johnson & Johnson had 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 court ruling “leaves important legal questions that state and federal courts will continue to face” on procedural and jurisdictional issues, the company said on Tuesday.
It is not related to “product safety,” Johnson & Johnson insisted.
Two Supreme Court justices recused themselves. According to the American press, Samuel Alito owns shares in the group, and Brett Kavanaugh’s father worked as a lobbyist for the company.
While maintaining its innocence, Johnson & Johnson announced in May that it stopped selling this talc-based powder in the United States and Canada, countries where sales have declined due to changing habits and mistrust of the product.