The company has already announced it will apparel the decision ….
There is line of state and others that have indicated they would pursue cases against other drug companies …
This is just one judgement by a lower court state judge that applies to Oklahoma only …
A judge Monday found Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, ordering the health-care company to pay $572 million to remedy the devastation wrought by the epidemic on the state and its residents.
Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s landmark decision is the first to hold a drugmaker culpable for the fallout of years of liberal opioid dispensing that began in the late 1990s, sparking a nationwide epidemic of overdose deaths and addiction. More than 400,000 people have died of overdoses from painkillers, heroin and illegal fentanyl since 1999.
“The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma and must be abated immediately,” Balkman said, reading part of his decision aloud from the bench Monday afternoon.
“As a matter of law, I find that defendants’ actions caused harm, and those harms are the kinds recognized by [state law] because those actions annoyed, injured or endangered the comfort, repose, health or safety of Oklahomans,” he wrote in the decision.
With more than 40 states lined up to pursue similar claims against the pharmaceutical industry, the ruling in the first state case to go to trial could influence both sides’ strategies in the months and years to come. Plaintiffs’ attorneys around the country cheered the decision, saying they hoped it would be a model for an enormous federal lawsuit brought by nearly 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and others scheduled to begin in Cleveland, Ohio, in October….
Alexandra Lahav, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, said it’s too early to predict the impact of Balkman’s decision on future cases.
“I think it’s important that people remember that this is just Oklahoma law, and it’s a lower court judge,” she said. “It hasn’t been vetted on appeal yet.”
Still, she said, the ruling may provide momentum to the idea that there is merit to these claims and encourage other states to pursue similar strategies.
As an outside observer, Lahav said, she is not convinced that Johnson & Johnson’s role as supplier of raw materials to other drug companies sufficiently connects it to the opioid crisis. But Balkman clearly accepted that, she said….