Oklahoma appeals judge’s $465 million order in opioid case

Mike Hunter

FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2019 file photo, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter talks with reporters following a hearing to settle disagreements between Johnson & Johnson and the State over Judge Thad Balkman’s final judgement in the opioid lawsuit, in Norman, Okla. The state of Oklahoma filed an appeal Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 to a judge’s order that Johnson & Johnson pay $465 million to address the state’s opioid crisis. Hunter’s office argues the award is only enough to pay for one year of the state’s abatement plan. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A judge didn’t order Johnson & Johnson to pay enough when he said the company must pay $465 million to address Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, the state said in an appeal filed Monday.

Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office argues the award is only enough to pay for one year of the state’s abatement plan. During last summer’s trial, state experts testified it would cost about $17.5 billion over 30 years to abate the state’s opioid crisis. Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson have said that figure is wildly inflated.

The state also filed an application with the court for reimbursement of litigation expenses.

Johnson & Johnson also is appealing the judge’s order, maintaining the award should be reduced by $355 million to offset the pretrial settlements reached with other drugmakers. The company also maintains the judge misapplied the state’s public nuisance laws in reaching his decision.

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in August ruled Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the opioid crisis with an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign that overstated how effective the drugs were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction.

The judge initially ordered the company to pay $572 million, but later reduced that amount after acknowledging he made a miscalculation.

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