Judge rejects Johnson & Johnson request to end opioid lawsuit

The state of Oklahoma plans to take Johnson & Johnson to court after a judge ruled the state can try a civil case that would order the company to pay more than $17.5 billion for their alleged role in the opioid crisis.

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According to The Oklahoman, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman denied the company’s request to be dropped from the case.

The Sooner State is one of the first to take drugmakers to court, claiming they contributed to the nation’s opioid crisis. According to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids including both heroin and prescription drugs accounted for a record 48,000 deaths in 2017. The state of Oklahoma is arguing the company contributed to the deaths of nearly 7,000 people.

Oklahoma reached settlements with Perdue Pharma for $270 million and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA for $85 million ahead of trial.

At the end of May, Hunter Shkolnik, a partner at Napoli Shkolnik, told FOX Business’ Liz Claman that Johnson & Johnson will ultimately settle the Oklahoma case.

“Johnson & Johnson has a history of taking the plaintiffs to the mat. They try cases, they try usually a few of them and they generally get hit pretty hard and pretty bad,” he said.

Defense attorneys for the drugmaker claimed the state is looking for a company of their size to "satisfy an astronomical judgment."