J&J Punished After Court Decision

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) shares were fated for a downward start Thursday after it was ordered by a California jury to pay $29 million to a woman who alleged that asbestos in the company's talcum-powder-based products caused her cancer.

It was the latest defeat for J&J, which is facing thousands of similar lawsuits. The company denies allegations that its talc causes cancer, saying numerous studies and tests by regulators worldwide have shown that its talc is safe and asbestos-free.

The New Jersey-based company is likely to appeal the verdict, which was made in California Superior Court in Oakland.

JNJ faces more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits. A Los Angeles jury last year awarded $21.7 million to a woman who blamed her cancer on the powder. J&J also lost a motion to reverse a jury verdict in Missouri that awarded more than $4 billion to women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in the company's products.

J&J relaunched its iconic namesake baby product line last summer to reverse a decline in J&J's baby care unit. While trusted for decades, the 124-year-old brand had fallen out of touch with consumers, namely millennial moms, who opted instead for cleaner, natural products from trendy upstart brands.

J&J, which has a market cap of $371.3 billion, has seen its shares up nearly 4% over the past 12 months. They opened Thursday down $1.27 to $138.17