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Opioid Trial Judge could make the biggest verdict in US history



The state has accused Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals of creating a public nuisance that cost the state billions of dollars and destroyed thousands of lives. Johnson & Johnson denied any wrongdoing and said it had been made a "scapegoat".

Cleveland District Judge Thad Balkman will make his decision at 15:00. (4:00 pm ET) in his courtroom in the university town of Norman.

It is the first state attempt to hold a pharmaceutical company accountable for one of the worst epidemics in history. The state has asked for nearly $ 17.2 billion to remedy the epidemic over a 30-year period. If Balkman fully joins the state, the verdict would be the biggest cash prize in a banking process in American history.

"This would be the largest bank trial verdict in US history and would have far-reaching implications," he told Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

If the judge sided with Johnson & Johnson, it would set a precedent for the pharmaceutical industry to defend itself nationwide, observers said.

  Judge Thad Balkman will decide on Monday's historic Oklahoma Opioid trial.
"What happens in Oklahoma sets the tone," Abbe Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School, told CNN when the trial ended. "Johnson & Johnson gambled here and went to court in a television courtroom … They could win a big victory or suffer a great defeat, and that will set the tone for everything that follows." "

The case will depend on whether Balkman buys the public harassment theory of the state – that Johnson & Johnson has caused a public health crisis in the state." Since opioids have a legitimate medical purpose, it would be interesting to see if the public harassment theory persisted

"If the judge rejects this theory," said Tobias, "in other cases, the plaintiffs rely more on traditional theories of tort law and negligence."

From Everyday to Fireworks

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"I've never seen a company try the truth more than this would ever hide, "said Brad Beckworth lawyer, who represents the state he was subjected to repeated objections.

Johnson & Johnson Attorney Sabrina Strong replied, "It's not about concealing the truth."

At another point, Terri White, the state mental health commissioner, cried in tears and got angry When a lawyer from Johnson & Johnson asked if the state was responsible for the opioid epidemic. Johnson & Johnson, White said, urged Opioide to Oklahoma, "without telling us that you would do so without assuming responsibility today."

"We are the only reason the only reason that lives are saved in the state," she said.

Cal Hobson, once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Oklahoma, persecuted every hour of the trial either in person or online. He called this moment – seeing white in tears – "one of the most insightful moments" of the whole process. In his view, according to Hobson, the case of Johnson & Johnson went downhill from there.

"It was just devastating," said Hobson, who spent 28 years at the Oklahoma House and Senate.

Johnson & Johnson Names the Case Tainted

Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma, cited the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, calling the company the drug kingpin of opioid manufacturers. Prior to the trial with other opioid manufacturers, he made two important comparisons: a $ 270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, and a $ 85 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the world's largest generics companies.
  Oklahoma lawyer beat Johnson & Johnson witnesses

This left Johnson & Johnson alone to defend themselves in court.

In his conclusion, Hunter accused the company of a "cunning, cynical and deceptive scheme to address the need for opioids."

Beckworth pointed out that there were 135 prescription opioids for every adult in Cleveland County alone. "If you surrender, people will die," he said. "That's a simple answer to a complex problem."

Johnson & Johnson lawyer Larry Ottaway told Balkman not to accept the state's argument.

"Only a company that believes in its innocence would enter and defend itself against a state," he said, "but we accept the challenge because we believe we are right."

Johnson & Johnson argued in his final court case file that the state's case is considered flimsy, stating that the charge of public harassment rests on "radical theories that have arisen from more than a century of Oklahoma's jurisdiction" ,

"In addition to these fundamental legal defects, the state has undoubtedly failed to prove its case," said Johnson & Johnson.

The drug company has blown up the state's witnesses, arguing that the state can not explain why its subsidiary Janssen contributed to the opioid crisis.

  Oklahoma Demands Judge for $ 17.2 Billion in Judgment Against Johnson & Johnson in a Historical Opioid Case

to enact. Although Johnson & John's son is best known for his baby powder. For years, the company has been selling the opioid long-term tablet Nucynta, which was sold for $ 1 billion in 2015. It still makes a fentanyl patch called duragesic.

The state pointed out that Johnson & Johnson once had two Tasmanian affiliates that enabled it to deliver more than 60% of all drugs for US-made and marketed opioids, including the blockbuster painkiller OxyContin from Purdue Pharma.

It was these actions, the state argued, that "the opioid painkillers have been inflicted on the unsuspecting public since the 1990s."

Oklahoma is one of dozens of states suing opioid drug companies and the first to be brought to justice. A federal process has been scheduled for this fall, in which nearly 2,000 cases involving cities, counties, communities, and tribal areas have been consolidated in a case where opioid manufacturers are accused of causing the epidemic.

More than 130 people in the US die every day after they overdose on opioids and the number of overdose deaths continues to rise.
From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people died of overdoses, according to US Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases.

In 2017, more than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses. This is one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. Almost 68% of these deaths were prescription or illegal opioids.


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