J&J did not get its “get out of jail free card”, quipped Mark Lanier, lead lawyer for the talc users, earlier this year.
The Missouri Court of Appeals found that, from evidence determining Johnson & Johnson’s failure to warn about the ovarian cancer risk from talc was motivated by profits, it was reasonable for a jury to justify damages. And after the Missouri Supreme Court refused to consider a further review of the case in November 2020, J&J had exhausted its appeals -- except for this final kick at the can.
J&J Petition to Supreme Court
In its March 2021 press release announcing a filing for a Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, J&J argued the verdict should be overturned based on mistakes made during the trial. “This was a fundamentally flawed trial in which numerous legal errors allowed a faulty presentation of facts, resulting in an incorrect verdict and arbitrary and disproportionate damages,” J&J stated. The press release went on to say about 24 different plaintiffs obscured difficult causation questions.
This petition was J&J’s last kick at the can to appeal the Missouri Supreme Court’s refusal in November 2020 to consider a further review of the decision by a panel of judges who awarded plaintiffs $500 million in compensatory damages, plus another $1.62 billion in punitive damages. In April 2020, U.S. District Judge Wolfsen presiding over the federal litigation (Case 3:16-md-02738-FLW-LHG) rejected J&J’s arguments and found expert opinions provided by plaintiffs were sufficiently reliable and sound enough to allow the J&J talc cancer cases to proceed to trial.
(A Writ of Certiorari is an order whereby a higher court reviews a decision of a lower court; it is only granted in about 3% of all civil lawsuit appeals filed with the highest court in the country.)