Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma, will be ruling a judgment on Monday deciding whether Johnson & Johnson (J&J) should be held liable for the Oklahoma opioid epidemic.
The judge will give the decision after presiding over the first trial of the thousands of lawsuits brought by the state’s attorney general, arguing that the drugmaker should be forced to pay $17 billion for fueling the opioid epidemic.
The case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in other opioid lawsuits, especially the cases pending in Ohio. Purdue Pharma LP and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, who also were defendants in the case, made a settlement of $270 million in March and $85 million in May respectively, denying any wrongdoing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 400,000 opioid overdose deaths were reported from 1999 to 2017. Around 6,000 Oklahomans have died from opioid overdoses since 2000, as per the state's lawyers.
Opioid lawsuits are consolidated under MDL No. 2804 (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation) presided by Judge Dan Polster.