Law.com: Oklahoma Supreme Court Tosses US$465M Opioid Judgment

November 09, 2021

In a 5-1 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed a US$465 million judgement against Johnson & Johnson. The justices concluded that US District Court Judge Thad Balkman, “went too far” in finding J&J responsible for the state’s opioid crisis by extending Oklahoma’s public nuisance law to cover the company’s marketing and sale of its products. “This case challenges us to rethink traditional notions of liability and causation,” Justice James Winchester wrote. “The state presented us with a novel theory—public nuisance liability for the marketing and selling of a legal product, based upon the acts not of one manufacturer, but an industry. However, we are unconvinced that such actions amount to a public nuisance under Oklahoma law.” The case was the first opioid lawsuit to ever go to trial in the United States. O’Melveny served as lead counsel for Johnson & Johnson in this matter.

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