An Oklahoma judge found Johnson & Johnson guilty in fueling the state’s opioid crises and ordered the corporation to pay $572 million in a landmark ruling with vast implications. The ruling by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma in favor of the state against Johnson & Johnson is one of the biggest monetary awards in U.S. history.
In making his ruling, Judge Balkman said Johnson & Johnson bears responsibility for helping to fuel the state’s opioid epidemic by aggressively marketing painkillers. Judge Balkman took about a month to make this judgement after a seven-week trial.
A brief statement by Johnson & Johnson said, “Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the opioid judgment in Oklahoma.”
“J&J acted as the kingpin behind this public health emergency, profiting at every stage,” declared the lawsuit filed against the company by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.
This was the first such case against a drugmaker to go to trial and it could set a precedent for cases across the country. Judge Balkman’s ruling could give lawyers a new strategy for holding large corporations accountable.