On June 1, 2021, the Supreme Court declined to review a Missouri state court’s staggering $2.1 billion punitive damages award against Johnson & Johnson. The case arose from a suit by 22 plaintiffs who alleged that the defendant’s talcum powder caused them to develop cancer. The jury calculated its $2.1 billion punitive damages award by multiplying the defendant’s annual profits from talc sales by the number of years it allegedly sold talc while knowing it contained asbestos. But that verdict, WLF argued in its amicus brief urging review, improperly punished the defendant for a whole range of nationwide conduct, not just the harm to the plaintiffs. Such constitutionally excessive punitive damages awards also reduce the pool of available funds for all those plaintiffs who have yet to see their day in court. WLF’s amicus brief was prepared with the pro bono assistance of Douglas Dunham, Ellen Quackenbos, Matthew Steinberg, and Theodore Yale at Dechert LLP.


U.S. Supreme Court brief

Missouri Supreme Court brief