U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs J&J appeal over $2 billion baby powder judgment

By Lawrence Hurley 

  WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Johnson & Johnson's bid to overturn a $2.12 billion damages award to women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in the company's baby powder and other talc products. 

  The justices turned away a J&J appeal and left in place a Missouri state court ruling in litigation brought by 22 women whose claims were heard together in one trial. 

  The Missouri Court of Appeals, an intermediate state appellate court, last year ruled against J&J's bid to throw out the compensatory and punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs but reduced the total to $2.12 billion from the $4.69 billion originally decided by a jury. 

  J&J has argued that a decision by a Missouri circuit court judge to consolidate disparate baby powder-related claims from the plaintiffs – including 17 women from outside the state – for a trial before a single jury violated the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company's due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. J&J also has argued that the size of the jury's damages award violated its due process rights. 

  The Missouri Supreme Court, the state's highest court, in November declined to hear J&J's appeal of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruling, prompting the company to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

  (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham) 

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