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Oklahoma court overturns $465M opioid ruling against Johnson & Johnson

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Posted at 11:49 AM, Nov 09, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has overturned a $465 million opioid ruling against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, finding that a lower court wrongly interpreted the state’s public nuisance law.

The court ruled in a 5-1 decision Tuesday that the district court in 2019 was wrong to find that New Jersey-based J&J violated the state’s public nuisance statute. The court also rejected the state’s appeal to increase the damage award.

Two years ago, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman directed J&J to pay the state $465 million to address the opioid crisis that the company is accused of contributing to with the drugs it made, The Oklahoman reports.

According to the original ruling obtained by KFOR, Balkman found that J&J engaged in false and misleading marketing of their drugs and he ruled that it constituted a public nuisance under state law.

Now, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that J&J shouldn’t have been held liable.

In their ruling, the state justices said opioid addiction is a serious problem in Oklahoma, but public nuisance law doesn’t provide a remedy for the harm it inflicts, KFOR reports. The court reportedly stressed that a manufacturer doesn’t have control of its products once they’re sold.