An Oklahoma judge ruled Monday that Johnson & Johnson is liable for $572 million for the public nuisance it created when it engaged in a marketing campaign that promoted opioid use.
The decision by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County was the first to hold a drugmaker responsible for the opioid epidemic after a trial, report the New York Times, Law.com, Courthouse News Service, the Oklahoman and the Washington Post.
Balkman, who ruled after a bench trial, limited damages to the amount needed to fight the crisis for one year. Oklahoma had sought $17 billion. The Oklahoman reports “confusion” over whether the state can seek additional funding if the drug crisis persists.
In his ruling, Balkman said Johnson & Johnson had joined in a marketing campaign to spread the message that pain was being undertreated and prescription opioids carried a low risk of abuse.