The Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision Tuesday, November 9, 2021, overturning a $465 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in the first opioid litigation case to go to trial in the U.S. in the spring of 2019. The Court held in a 5-1 decision that the District Court of Cleveland County wrongly interpreted Oklahoma’s public nuisance statute holding that “the opioid manufacturer’s actions did not create a public nuisance” and that the “district court erred in extending the public nuisance statute to the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of prescription opioids.”
In March of 2019, the trial between the State of Oklahoma and Johnson & Johnson, et al. began in Cleveland County, in which the State alleged, among other things, that J&J had engaged in a campaign of deceptive and misleading prescription opioid marketing practices resulting in a “devastating public health crisis in Oklahoma.” The trial judge, Judge Balkman, was quoted as saying “Defendants' sales representatives called on Oklahoma medical professionals hundreds of thousands of times [over a 20-year period] while selling opioids as evidenced by [numerous] boxes of call notes from Defendants' Oklahoma sales representatives over the last two decades. Defendants' Oklahoma sales representatives brought breakfast, lunch, coffee, and snacks to Oklahoma doctors' offices and used speaker programs as part of their sales strategies." OPVEON assisted in producing these trial materials for use by counsel, witnesses, and the Court by printing, preparing, and transporting approximately 145 boxes of documents for use throughout the trial.
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