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Johnson & Johnson responsible for opioid crisis judge rules

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Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 16:30:17-04

In a landmark decision, an Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the state's opioid crisis.

The verdict issued by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman marks the end of the first state trial attempting to hold a pharmaceutical company accountable for one of the worst health epidemics in history. In his ruling, Balkman said the opioid crisis has "ravaged" the state of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is one of dozens of states suing opioid drugmakers and this case is the first state case to reach trial. A federal trial is slated for this fall in which nearly 2,000 cases involving cities, counties, communities and tribal lands have been rolled into one, accusing opioid makers of causing the epidemic.

Attorneys across the nation -- especially those which are part of the trial set for federal court in Ohio this fall -- have been "watching and learning from the case Oklahoma assembled, while defendants have been watching for vulnerabilities in that case," Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said earlier this month .