Cleveland Co. Judge Admits $107 Million Error In Opioid Ruling


Tuesday, October 15th 2019, 8:06 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck


A judge in the historic Oklahoma Johnson and Johnson opioid case is expected to reduce his judgement by more than $100 million because of a math error.

Attorneys for the state and Johnson and Johnson returned to the Cleveland County courthouse looking for some clarification on the judges historic $572 million opioid ruling. 

 “Judge this is the most important case that you and I will ever be involved in.” said Attorney General Mike Hunter. 

Johnson and Johnson argued Judge Thad Balkman made a math error, ruling the consumer products giant had to pay $107 million for education services instead of $107,000.

The judge agreed.  

“The cost for Johnson and Johnson to pay is $107,633. That’ll be the last time I use that calculator,” said Balkman. 

That should reduce the overall judgement. But the state argued that the original $572 million was for one year, not the total cost of abating the opioid crisis.

 “I think Jay and Jay read that to say that you were doing a one time award of $572 million. We read your order as you wrote it with what the law of Oklahoma and elsewhere would require,” said State Attorney Brad Beckworth. 

Johnson & Johnson Attorney Steve Brody responded, “The state did not provide sufficient evidence to allow the state to then come back a year later, two years later, five years later, 10 years later and try to prove what it didn’t prove at trial.”

Beckworth replied, “$572 million is not it.  It will take years upon years. Your honors order is Broad enough to allow us to come back each year or however long it takes.”

Judge Balkman will now decide whether to alter his judgement and whether the courts or the legislature will be responsible for getting more money from Johnson and Johnson in the future. 

State Attorney Reggie Whitten addressed Judge Balkman saying, “And for you to take no action and leave this nuisance unabated is not just, it is not equitable, you know what those cases say now and I urge you to use your power of equity and fix this thing.”

At this time there’s no timeline on when Judge Balkman will make his decision. 

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