Judge to weigh $17 billion opioid case against Johnson & Johnson

Oklahoma's $17 billion lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary is now in the hands of Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman.

Oklahoma's $17 billion lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary is now in the hands of Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman. The 7-week trial came to a close Monday as opposing attorneys for the state and the company presented their closing arguments, thus ending a closely monitored case that presented novel arguments in the battle against opioid addiction. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter sued J&J arguing that the company is financially liable for the crisis under the state's nuisance law and therefore must pay billions of dollars to fund an abatement plan to fix the state's opioid crisis. Judge Balkman said he anticipates taking about a month to reach a decision in the case. J&J argued that its medications are not the cause of the complex opioid crisis and that it is being made into a "scapegoat." The company's legal team contended that every step of J&J's drug manufacturing and supply process is strictly regulated and drugs from the company comprise only a small portion of the opioids prescribed across the state. Oklahoma has proposed a 30-year plan to abate the costs of opioid addiction that it says J&J should fund. The plan includes money for addiction treatment, education of the public and medical community, and overdose prevention programs.