Johnson & Johnson paid a steep price this year for claims that its celebrated baby powder was contaminated with asbestos. Problem is, 2019 could be even worse.
A jury ordered the company in July to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who blamed the talc-based product for causing their ovarian cancer. The prospect of similar judgments helped erase $45 billion in J&J’s market value, with the shares headed for their biggest annual loss in a decade.
Next year, the world’s largest maker of health-care products is scheduled to face almost three times as many baby-powder trials. Four will be in St. Louis, the same state court where the company lost the July verdict. Several of the trials involve multiple alleged victims, including one with 38 women set to start in August, according to court filings….
Earlier this month, J&J settled its first baby-powder case, teaming up with talc supplier Imerys America Inc. to pay more than $1.5 million to settle a Manhattan woman’s claims. The company said the move didn’t signal it was open to the idea of a global settlement.
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