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To Win Opioid Lawsuit, Oklahoma Used a Century-Old Property Law. Will Other States Follow?

Oklahoma’s unusual use of an old nuisance law to win it’s landmark suit against Johnson & Johnson on Monday could spur some states to amend their cases against opioid manufacturers and distributors to include the century-old statute.

Oklahoma’s unusual use of an old nuisance law to win it’s landmark suit against Johnson & Johnson on Monday could spur some states to amend their cases against opioid manufacturers and distributors to include the century-old statute.

Oklahoma Judge Thad Balkman said in his 42-page ruling Monday afternoon the state met its burden that J&J created a “public nuisance” with the misleading marketing and promotion of opioids, ordering the company to pay $572 million to help combat the ongoing crisis. The ruling could eventually see a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision came a day before NBC News reported that Purdue Pharma, the privately held maker of OxyContin that has faced much of the blame for the nationwide crisis, and its owner the Sackler family, offered to settle the lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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