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Local & Regional

Oklahoma Wins Opioid Lawsuit But Gets Much Less Than It Sought

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After two years of legal proceedings and an eight-week trial, Judge Thad Balkman issued a verdict Monday in Oklahoma’s lawsuit against the makers of opioid painkillers.

"My judgment includes findings of fact and conclusions of law that the state met its burden, that the defendants, Janssen and Johnson & Johnson’s misleading marketing and promotion of opioids, created a nuisance as defined by 50 O.S. Section 1," Balkman said.

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen, were the only defendants left in Oklahoma's lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies making opioid painkillers.

"Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma," Balkman said.

Despite finding for the state, Balkman ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay just $572.1 million, about 3% of the $17 billion the state sought for a plan to abate Oklahoma’s opioid addiction crisis.

Balkman’s ruling said the state didn’t prove the amount of time and costs necessary for a plan to work past the first year.

"Whether additional programs and funding are needed over an extended period of time, those are determinations to be made by our legislators and policymakers. At this moment and based on this record, this is what the court can and will do to abate the nuisance," Balkman said.

Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the ruling.