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J&J weighs $3 billion settlement

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest seller of health-care products, has discussed paying more than $3 billion to settle lawsuits over its recalled hip implants, according to five people familiar with the matter.

J&J seeks to resolve as many as 11,500 lawsuits in the U.S. and has considered paying more than $300,000 per case, according to sources. Such a settlement would exceed $3 billion if most plaintiffs accept the terms, an amount 50 percent larger than proposed in previous discussions.

The company is pushing to resolve U.S. cases by early next year. J&J’s Warsaw-based DePuy unit recalled 93,000 implants in 2010, including 37,000 in the U.S., after more than 12 percent failed within five years. That rate is climbing, along with suits by patients blaming the chromium and cobalt devices for pain, metal debris and replacement surgeries.

Court: Apartheid suits cannot go forward

Two automakers and a technology company cannot be held liable in the U.S. for abuses committed by South Africa’s government, a federal appeals court said Wednesday. Class-action lawsuits had tried to hold American, Canadian and European companies liable for the claims of millions of people who suffered under apartheid.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said claims that subsidiaries of the companies are to blame for selling cars and computers to the South African government must be rejected.

Lawsuits sought to hold Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co. and IBM Corp. responsible for race-based injustices including rape, torture and murder under apartheid, which ended about 1994.

They said Daimler and Ford manufactured military vehicles for the South African security forces and assisted in identifying and torturing anti-apartheid leaders. The plaintiffs also accused IBM of providing computer equipment so the South African government could track dissidents.

Target’s profit falls on shopper caution

Target Corp. on Wednesday became the latest in a string of companies that have lowered their business expectations as they contend with an uncertain economy.

The cheap chic retailer dialed down its annual profit forecast after reporting a 13 percent drop in second-quarter profit as its expansion into Canada – its first foray outside the U.S. – has proven more challenging than expected.

Target earned $611 million, or 95 cents per share, in the quarter ended Aug. 3. That compares with $704 million, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue reached $17.12 billion, up 2 percent from $16.45 billion in the quarter.

2 alleged fraudsters arrested in Thailand

Two Canadians accused of scamming more than $140 million from investors worldwide in a penny stock fraud have been arrested in Thailand, police said Wednesday.

Gregory Curry, 63-year-old native of Canada, was arrested Tuesday at his ex-wife’s house in Kabin Buri district, said Lt. Col. Kanaphat Phahumunto. The suspected mastermind, 55-year-old Sandy Winick, was apprehended by Thai Special Branch police.

The pair is among nine men the FBI suspects of augmenting the share price of worthless stocks of small companies and unloading them to unsuspecting investors from about 35 countries. Both men face extradition to the U.S. on an indictment in a New York court.