Civil Justice Warriors

Understanding the Landmark Opioid Decision Against J&J

Last month, Johnson & Johnson was held accountable for helping incite the opioid epidemic. Even though it happened at the state-level in Oklahoma, the news is huge because it sets an important legal precedent for all future opioid lawsuits.

Now that manufacturers can be held responsible for these dangerous drugs, people who have been affected by the opioid crisis may eventually be able to come forward and claim damages under product liability laws. Bur first, let’s look at exactly what J&J did wrong.

Deceptive Marketing

During their trial, J&J was found to have overplayed the benefits of opioid painkillers and downplayed the risks. According to court documents, sales representatives were trained to claim addiction risks of less than or equal to 2.6%, assuming the drugs were prescribed by a doctor. As evidenced by the opioid-related deaths of approximately 42,000 Americans per year, however, these claims were egregiously false. Oklahoma’s attorney general accused J&J of selling a so-called “magic pill” in pursuit of profit, all the while ignoring decades of scientific research demonstrating the dangers of opioid painkillers.

Financial Consequences

Siding with the prosecution, District Judge Thad Balkman ruled that J&J “caused an opioid crisis that’s evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome.” The company was ordered to pay $572 million to the state of Oklahoma, which will use the money to help state recovery efforts.


For everyday patients who are exposed to opioid addiction, recovery is also an expensive undertaking. Filing a lawsuit may help you finance your treatment.

If your doctor was influenced by deceptive claims, they may have been unaware of the risks of your prescription, leaving liability on the shoulders of the manufacturer. Today, however, the risks of opioids are well-known, so your doctor should always follow CDC guidelines when prescribing painkillers.

If you believe the negligence of a company or medical professional caused you to be influenced by dangerous or defective drugs of any kind, contact our Dallas injury attorneys at Mathias Raphael PLLC Accident & Injury Lawyers today to discuss your case. We are available at (214) 739-0100 or during a free consultation.