Wilmington/Detroit/Oklahoma City — Johnson & Johnson (J&J) took the unusual step of settling three women’s claims that its talc-based products caused their asbestos-linked cancers rather than let juries decide the cases, potentially opening a new front in the growing litigation against the world’s largest maker of healthcare products. Jurors in state court in Oklahoma City on Wednesday spent about three hours weighing up whether J&J’s baby powder was a factor in a 77-year-old woman’s development of peritoneal mesothelioma, when a judge announced the two sides had come to a deal. Details of the accord weren’t made public. On the same day, J&J also reached a confidential settlement that cut short a trial in Los Angeles over a 36-year-old’s claims that products she had used since childhood led to her mesothelioma, an asbestos-linked cancer, and resolved a similar New York case slated for trial in April. Unlike some pharma companies, J&J isn’t known for quickly settling cases, so resolv...

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