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The Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned a $465 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in a lawsuit alleging the health care giant fueled the opioid crisis through deceptive marketing of painkillers and created a public nuisance.

In a 5-to-1 ruling, the court determined that the state’s public nuisance law does not extend to the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of prescription opioids and that a trial judge went too far when held the company liable two years ago. A public nuisance generally refers to an action that damages or interferes with a community.


“Public nuisance is fundamentally ill-suited to resolve claims against manufacturers,” Justice James Winchester wrote in a 28-page ruling. “…However grave the problem of opioid addiction is in Oklahoma, public nuisance law does not provide a remedy for this harm.”

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