Judge Will Announce Decision In $17B Bellwether Opioid Trial Monday, CVN To Webcast Live

Posted by David Siegel on Aug 23, 2019 10:54:19 AM

opioid screenshot

CVN screenshot of attorney Bradley Beckworth, representing the Oklahoma AG's office, delivering his closing statement on July 15

Norman, OK - The Oklahoma state court judge overseeing the first trial in the country over claims a drug manufacturer is responsible for the opioid crisis will announce his ruling in the case on Monday, and the proceedings will be webcast live by Courtroom View Network. 

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman, who heard the historic case without a jury, will decide whether pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen created a “public nuisance” through its marketing and distribution of opioid-based painkillers, which Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says flooded the state with addictive drugs and prompted a public health crisis. 

Hunter is seeking more than $17 billion in damages, which he says are necessary to fund a 30 year abatement plan that would establish addiction treatment and prevention programs throughout the state. 

J&J has vehemently denied the allegations, arguing that their opioid-based drugs are highly regulated by the the FDA, that they make up a small percentage of the opioids prescribed in Oklahoma, and that they shouldn’t be held responsible for decisions by individual doctors to overprescribe the powerful medications. 

The full 7-week trial, which began on May 28, was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by CVN and is available as part of a subscription to CVN’s online video library. A CVN Live subscription is required for real-time access to Monday's proceedings. 

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Besides potentially saddling J&J with a multi-billion verdict, Judge Balkman’s decision will likely play a substantial role in influencing the outcome of thousands of opioid-related suits filed by state and local government against drug manufacturers throughout the United States. 

Specifically, the outcome of the Oklahoma case will impact a massive bellwether trial scheduled for October in federal court, which will involve claims against numerous drug companies. The Oklahoma case originally included claims against Purdue Pharma, which manufactures the drug Oxycontin, and Teva, but both companies reached settlements with the state before the trial began. 

Besides being the first time opioid-related claims against a drug manufacturer were heard in a civil trial, the case was also a significant event for courtroom media access, marking the first time in Oklahoma that a civil case was webcast live gavel-to-gavel. Judge Balkman designated CVN, the only media company in the country dedicated specifically to video coverage of civil trials, as the sole source video provider for the proceedings. 

Judge Balkman will take the bench at 3pm Central to read his decision. 

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Topics: Pharmaceutical