Landmark Opioid Trial Hinges on a Legal Term - Page 2

What is a 'public nuisance'?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2019 1:08 PM CDT

  • A key term: The state is arguing that Johnson & Johnson created a "public nuisance" that will cost up to $17.5 billion to fix. The company, though, says the state is improperly using the term, which is more typically raised in property disputes. "This is an interesting twist on the idea of public nuisance," Virginia law professor Carl Tobias tells CNN.
  • Company's view: "The State ignores this well-established law and now argues that public nuisance allows them to compel any party allegedly contributing in any measure to a social problem to fund all programs that state administrators dream up to address it," J&J says in a statement. "This is not and should not be the law."
  • The stakes: The reason this trial is being so closely watched is that approximately 2,000 lawsuits have been brought by other states and municipalities against drug companies, and the outcome in Norman, Oklahoma, could set a precedent. If the state wins, Johnson & Johnson might have to pay billions, reports NPR, an outcome that could prompt settlements in the pending cases.
  • More coming: Barring a settlement, a huge federal trial is scheduled to begin in Ohio in October, and that one will involve Purdue Pharma, notes Politico. Meanwhile, no fewer than 46 states have sued Purdue Pharma, according to Pew. That's why the Oklahoma case looms large. "We'll all be seeing what evidence is available, what evidence isn't available and just how convincing that evidence is," Stanford law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom tells NPR.
(Read more opioids stories.)

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