The American Lawyer: Litigators of the Week: A Huge Win for Drug Company Defendants in California Opioid Trial

November 05, 2021

The tentative decision from a judge in Orange County, California, was the first major win for drug companies facing trials across the country targeting their roles in the opioid crisis. Kirkland & Ellis, Hueston Hennigan, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represented the defendants. All four are this week’s Litigators of the Week. O’Melveny, citing the ongoing litigation, declined to comment. O'Melveny successfully defended Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The plaintiffs, three large California counties and the City of Oakland, claimed that Janssen and other drug makers misleadingly promoted and marketed painkillers that led to inappropriate prescriptions, drug abuse, and overdoses. “There is simply no evidence to show that the rise in prescriptions was not the result of the medically appropriate provision of pain medications to patients in need,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson wrote. The O’Melveny trial team was led by partner Michael Yoder and included Steve Brody, Amy Laurendeau, Amy Lucas, Charlie Lifland, Jonathan Schneller, and Ross Galin.

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