Opioid Trial Decision Against Johnson & Johnson
On Aug. 26, 2019, Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court in Oklahoma ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to the state, finding that the company helped drive the opioid epidemic.
Brad Beckworth, the lead attorney for the state said, “We have shown that J & J was at the root cause of this opioid crisis, and it made billions of dollars from it over a 20-year period. They have always denied responsibility and yet at the same time they say they want to make a difference in solving this problem. So do the right thing: Come in here, pay the judgment.”
This case was closely watched by the more than 20 opioid makers, distributors, and retailers that currently face approximately 2,000 similar lawsuits across the country. Plaintiffs from forty-eight states have filed lawsuits against companies in the drug industry, claiming that those involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the drugs are partly responsible for the current opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the crisis has killed more than 400,000 people across the country since 2000.
Opioids are highly addictive drugs used to block pain and include both prescription pain medications and illegal drugs. Until recent decades, opioids were traditionally prescribed for those who were near death and experiencing severe pain. In the last several decades, however, those in the medical industry began to use opioids as a solution for treating pain, and the effort was partially funded by drug manufacturers. Recent studies have questioned opioids effectiveness for treating chronic pain and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned medical professionals to use caution when prescribing these addictive drugs. Research has indicated that the longer patients take opioids and the higher the doses they take, the more it is they will develop an addiction. In 2017, the White House Council of Economic Advisers stated that the cost of the opioid epidemic exceeded $500 billion in 2015.
In a recent radio interview, Michael S. Burg, shareholder, and founder of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine discussed the current drug crisis and how the lawsuits are seeking to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for drug-related addictions, injuries, and deaths. Listen to the interview on KHOW.
Michael S. Burg
Michael Burg J.D. is one of America’s leading trial lawyers, a best-selling author, legal expert and founding shareholder of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine. A legal champion for victims of corporate and individual malfeasance, negligence, overreach and abuse, Burg began his career fighting for the underdog and has gone on to successfully litigate some of the country’s most high-profile cases of the past four decades. Under Burg’s leadership, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine has expanded to more than 60 attorneys across seven cities. A national leader in mass tort and class action litigation, the firm has won more than $1 billion in verdicts, judgments, and settlements on behalf of its clients.