Analysis

Opioid Litigation's Pillar Theory Is Suddenly Showing Cracks

By Cara Salvatore, Emily Field and Jeff Overley (November 10, 2021, 6:54 PM EST) -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court's erasure of a $465 million opioid verdict against Johnson & Johnson coupled with a similar ruling last week in California bodes ill for the legal theory carrying nationwide litigation, underscoring the hurdles in addressing a complex epidemic through the courts.

Tuesday's decision marks a shift in fortunes in the yearslong opioid litigation, casting new doubt on the central theory that the spread of addiction created a "public nuisance" by burdening not only users but their support networks, communities, and society at large.

The 2019 post-trial ruling by Judge Thad Balkman of Oklahoma against Johnson & Johnson, the first major...

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