2019 is not looking bright for
Johnson & Johnson.
2018 ended with bombshell news reports from
Reuters News and the
New York Times, chronicling evidence of J&J’s decades’-old concern about
asbestos in baby powder which it hid from the public. The evidence was
presented in numerous lawsuits J&J defended across the country in
which it was asserted that asbestos in J&J products caused mesothelioma
and ovarian cancer. The news sparked investor concern leading to J&J’s
biggest drop in market value in a decade.
In 2019, J&J will be defending lawsuits filed by thousands of plaintiffs
accusing the healthcare products giant of “hiding the cancer risk
to protect a brand that has been a staple in American homes for more than
a century.” It is estimated that in 2019 J&J will defend nearly
triple the baby powder cases it defended in 2018.
J&J spokesman, Ernie Knewitz, stated that the company “will continue
to vigorously defend the safety of Johnson’s baby powder in the
courtroom.” However, as the number of cases increases, the cost
to defend these lawsuits will be astronomical. Litigation analysts are
anticipating the possibility of J&J implementing an organized settlement
program in the future.
In fact, shortly after Mr. Knewitz’s vow to continue J&J’s
strategy of defending victim’s cases at all costs, news broke that
J&J agreed to its first-ever settlement in an
asbestos/mesothelioma case. J&J has declined to comment on this settlement.
It appears that in 2018, a combination of public revelations, investor
and public distrust, market devaluation, potential congressional investigation,
and mounting litigation costs have finally pierced J&J’s armor.
We remain optimistic that in 2019, J&J will continue its shift away
steadfast denial to acceptance of responsibility for those it has harmed.