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U.S. Supreme Court denies Johnson...

U.S. Supreme Court denies Johnson & Johnson request to halt Mississippi talcum powder lawsuit

By: Anne Summerhays - December 14, 2021

Thousands of women have sued Johnson & Johnson, stating the talcum used in the baby powder gave them ovarian cancer.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a motion filed by Johnson & Johnson to throw out a lawsuit brought by the state of Mississippi. The lawsuit is over allegations that the company failed to inform residents that its talc-based products increased the risks of developing ovarian cancer.

The case dates from 2014, when Mississippi officials sued Johnson & Johnson.

“Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company’s powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public,” a 2018 Reuters investigation found.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys out for personal financial gain are distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media,” Ernie Knewitz, J&J’s vice president of global media relations, wrote in an emailed response to Reuters’ findings. “This is all a calculated attempt to distract from the fact that thousands of independent tests prove our talc does not contain asbestos or cause cancer. Any suggestion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid information about the safety of talc is false.”

In December of 2019, Johnson & Johnson said after more than 150 tests, that its Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe and free of asbestos. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding sub-trace levels of asbestos (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

In February, Bloomberg Law reported that J&J faced nearly 25,000 lawsuits by those who have used the Johnson’s Baby Powder. J&J has also reserved nearly $4 billion for settling future lawsuits tied to the product.

The company announced that they would stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in both the United States and Canada in 2020.

“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” Johnson and Johnson said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the Company in the courtroom.”

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: