Insurance & Reinsurance
Judge delivers verdict for the State of Oklahoma after a two-month bench trial against Johnson & Johnson.
On August 26, 2019, Judge Thad Balkman of the District Court of Cleveland County, Oklahoma, delivered a verdict for plaintiff the State of Oklahoma after a two-month bench trial against Johnson & Johnson. The State had sued Johnson & Johnson and several other pharmaceutical companies for violations of Oklahoma's Public Nuisance Law, arguing that the defendants' marketing and sale of opioid products for pain management had caused an epidemic of drug addiction there. In his decision, Judge Balkman found that there had been an increase of opioid prescriptions between 1994 and 2006 which had caused more than 2,000 deaths in Oklahoma, and stated that during that time Johnson & Johnson had engaged in false, deceptive and misleading efforts to market and encourage liberal prescriptions of opioids, downplay the risks of addiction to physicians, and fund science promoting opioid prescriptions. He rejected Johnson & Johnson's argument that its marketing efforts were constitutionally-protected free speech, ruling that their efforts were clearly commercial in nature and qualified as a public nuisance which endangered the comfort, health and safety of Oklahomans. The Court found that the costs of abating the State's damages would be $572,102,028. To read the decision, please download the file below.