CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An Oklahoma judge on Monday ruled Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries must pay the state $572 million in connection with the effects of the opioid crisis.
The verdict, made by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman, also stated the drug manufacturer misled the public with its marketing and promotion of its opioid products, which “created a nuisance” and negatively affected the health of the state’s people as evident with increasing cases of addiction and fatal overdoses.
“This is a temporary public nuisance that can be abated, and a proper remedy for a public nuisance is equitable abatement,” Balkman said.
Monday’s announced verdict comes after two settlements involving Oklahoma; the state and Purdue Pharma — the maker of OxyCotin — reached a $270 million settlement in March. The state and Teva Pharmaceuticals settled in May for $85 million.
Neither Purdue Pharma or Teva Pharmaceuticals admitted any wrongdoing as part of their settlements.
“Johnson & Johnson will finally be held accountable for thousands of deaths and addiction caused by their activities,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.
“Through the trial, our team proved what we have alleged along: that the company used pseudoscience and misleading information to downplay the risks of opioids, leading to the worst manmade public nuisance our state and this country has ever seen, the opioid crisis,” he added.
Hunter said Johnson & Johnson built itself on “greed and on the backs of pain and suffering of innocent people.”
Oklahoma asked for $17 billion, but Balkman wrote the state did not present sufficient enough evidence regarding that amount.
An attorney with the companies said they will appeal the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey last week filed separate lawsuits in Boone County Circuit Court against Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals, alleging the companies played a role in the state’s opioid crisis.