$572 Million Verdict in Oklahoma Opioid Trial
Today marked the conclusion of the nation's first opioid trial before the Hon. Thad Balkman in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. The state's Attorney General accused drug giant Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., of fueling Oklahoma's opioid epidemic, arguing that opioids are a "public nuisance" that have claimed the lives of thousands of Oklahomans over the last twenty years. To support its claims, the Oklahoma A.G. put on evidence that J&J was responsible for supplying over 60% of the ingredients used by the opioid industry at large to manufacture various drugs. The case was tried as a bench trial--with the judge, rather than a jury, serving as factfinder--and Judge Balkman's decision today slapped the company with a $572 million verdict, which is to be placed into an abatement plan to remediate the problem. In entering his decision, Judge Balkman found that J&J's "opioid marketing, in its multitude of forms, was false, deceptive, and misleading" and that the crisis had "ravaged the state of Oklahoma."