The company told the Supreme Court that a link to ovarian cancer from its product had not been proved. And it said a trial in St. Louis in which 22 plaintiffs from 12 states were allowed to press claims was so unfair that it violated the company’s right to due process.
As is its custom, the court did not provide a reason for turning down the case. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Brett M. Kavanaugh recused themselves from considering it.
The company faces thousands of lawsuits regarding the talc-based powder, and last year it said it would stop selling the product in the United States and Canada. The company continues to sell a cornstarch version.
The case at issue came from a 2018 trial in which a jury awarded about $4.7 billion to the nearly two dozen women and their estates, plus billions of dollars more in punitive damages.
A state appeals court later reduced the total verdict to $2.1 billion and dismissed two of the plaintiffs from the case.
In a statement, the company said the Supreme Court’s refusal to consider the appeal was not a ruling on the merits, and leaves significant legal questions that state and federal courts “will continue to face.”
Justices typically do not give reasons for recusal. Alito’s financial disclosures show he owns stock in the company. Kavanaugh’s father was a lobbyist for the cosmetics industry, which had argued against warning labels for talc-based products.
The case is Johnson & Johnson v. Ingham.
In other action at the court, the justices continued to dispose of easy-to-decide cases as they entered what should be their final month of decisions.
In one, the justices were unanimous in ruling that tribal police officers can stop and detain non-Indians for potential violations of state or federal law that occur on reservation lands.
The court overturned a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that sided with a motorist charged with gun- and drug-related crimes after he was stopped by a tribal officer on a road that crosses the Crow reservation in Montana.
Officer James Saylor of the Crow Tribe Police Department found Joshua Cooley in his truck parked by the side of the road in 2016, headlights on and motor running. Cooley observed guns and drugs in the truck, and detained Cooley while seeking help from county and federal officers.
In siding with Cooley, the 9th Circuit cited previous Supreme Court precedents that limit the authority tribal officers have over non-Indians.
But Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that missed an important exception recognized in previous cases. It gives tribal police the authority to exercise civil authority over the conduct of non-Indians on reservations “when that conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the tribe.”
Breyer wrote that description fits Cooley’s case “almost like a glove.”
“To deny a tribal police officer authority to search and detain for a reasonable time any person he or she believes may commit or has committed a crime would make it difficult for tribes to protect themselves against ongoing threats,” he wrote.
The case is United States v. Cooley.
The court is working toward a goal of issuing decisions in cases argued this term by June 28. There are about two dozen remaining, and the justices will release more opinions Thursday.