In reaction to a 2019 verdict against it in Oklahoma, Johnson & Johnson has issued a brief arguing that the legal basis for the judgment was predicated on an overly broad interpretation of public-nuisance liability. The ruling had found the pharmaceutical giant culpable for cultivating prescription painkiller addiction in Oklahoma through the use of persuasive advertising and lack of governance in sales, finding that Johnson & Johnson violated Oklahoma's public nuisance statute, which is meant to prevent an activity that "annoys, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others."
Johnson & Johnson asserted in the response that the ruling "has no precedent in American legal history" and relies on a "radical reimagination of Oklahoma law." The company called out the verdict for being legally unsubstantiated and establishing a dangerous pattern against potential future cases filed against other pharmaceutical companies. Johnson & Johnson argued that the court incorrectly ruled by basing the focus of the case on marketing, as opposed to alleged "misuse of in-state homes or medical facilities." The company asserted they were incorrectly held responsible for the opioid crisis, alleging their actions were minimal in proportion compared to the actions of its two previously owned companies, Noramco and Tasmanian Alkaloids, which provide ingredients for painkillers. A spokesman offered the company's sympathies to those suffering from opioid addiction, but expressed concern about the potential long-term effects of the ruling on other Oklahoma businesses.
To read the Brief, please click here.
To read the Judgment, please click here.