J&J seeks over $5 billion in damages from Boston Scientific at trial

Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:05am EST
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly a decade after losing a bidding war for device maker Guidant to Boston Scientific Corp, Johnson & Johnson finally has a chance for payback at a multibillion-dollar trial set to begin on Thursday.

A federal court judge in New York will hear the case without a jury and decide whether Guidant, through its successor Boston Scientific, should be held liable for breaching a contract with J&J.

J&J seeks in excess of $5 billion in damages and interest from Boston Scientific, a potentially massive judgment against a company that as of Tuesday had a market capitalization of $17.8 billion.

The two-part trial before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan is expected to go into December as lawyers revisit the details, and the aftermath, of the nine-year-old Guidant battle.

Underscoring the stakes, Boston Scientific has brought in well-known litigator David Boies. Johnson & Johnson will answer with a high-profile lawyer of its own, Sean Coffey, perhaps best known for winning a $6 billion judgment against big banks in the wake of WorldCom's collapse.

The companies declined to comment ahead of the trial.

Jefferies Group analyst Raj Denhoy said in a note that the case "represents a major near-term risk" for Boston Scientific.

J&J and Guidant, which made cardiovascular devices, struck a deal to combine in 2004 and later agreed to a $21.5 billion price. To satisfy antitrust concerns, J&J said it would sell a portion of Guidant's business to Abbott Laboratories.   Continued...

A first aid kit made by Johnson & Johnson for sale on a store shelf in Westminster, Colorado April 14, 2009.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking