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State ex rel. Hunter v. Purdue Pharma L.P.

District Court of Oklahoma, Cleveland County, Twenty-First Judicial District

August 26, 2019, Decided; August 26, 2019, Filed

Case No. CJ-2017-816

Opinion

JUDGMENT AFTER NON-JURY TRIAL

Beginning May 28, 2019 and ending July 15, 2019, the Court conducted a non-jury trial in the above-captioned matter. From the time this action was commenced on June 30, 2017, and through and including today, this Court has been the beneficiary of exemplary professionalism and legal work on the part of counsel for each of the parties - certainly on par with what one would hope for and expect in a case of this magnitude. For that, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to each of you. The Court, having heard testimony of the witnesses sworn and examined in open court, having observed their demeanor and credibility, having reviewed the exhibits admitted into evidence, and being fully advised in the premises, finds as follows:

1. The State's sole claim for relief against the Defendants was for causing a public nuisance pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 50, §1 et seq., and the State sought relief in the form of abatement of the nuisance. The Defendants sought no counterclaims at trial and contended the State failed to meet its burden of proof. In addition the Defendants asserted multiple theories of defense under both statutory and common law. [*2] 

2. Over the course of 33 days of trial, the parties called 42 witnesses, submitted 874 exhibits into evidence and presented an additional 225 court exhibits.

3. The parties agree Oklahoma is suffering a crisis related to opioid drug abuse. The parties agree on certain statistics and data substantiating the crisis. The parties agree that from 1994 to 2006, prescription opioid sales increased fourfold and that from 2011-2015, more than 2,100 Oklahomans died of an unintentional prescription opioid overdose. It was undisputed that in 2015, over 326 million opioid pills were dispensed to Oklahoma residents, enough for every adult to have 110 pills. Oklahoma dispenses the most prescription fentanyl per capita. In 2017, 4.2% of babies born covered by SoonerCare were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (also called NAS), a group of conditions caused when a baby withdraws from certain drugs it's exposed to in the womb before birth,

4. The State, primarily under the leadership of the Oklahoma Department Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services ("ODMHSAS"), as well as through other agencies, undertook substantial efforts to implement programs, plans and measures to combat and mitigate the consequences [*3]  of the opioid overdose crisis.

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2019 Okla. Dist. LEXIS 3486 *

STATE OF OKLAHOMA, ex rel., MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA, Plaintiff, vs. (1) PURDUE PHARMA L.P.; (2) PURDUE PHARMA, INC.; (3) THE PURDUE FREDERICK COMPANY; (4) TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS USA, INC.; (5) CEPHALON, INC.; (6) JOHNSON & JOHNSON; (7) JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.; (8) ORTHO-McNEIL-JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., n/k/a JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICALS, PNC; (9) JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICA, INC., n/k/a JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.; (10) ALLERGAN, PLC, f/k/a ACTAVIS PLC, f/k/a ACTAVIS, INC., f/k/a WATSON PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.; (11) WATSON LABORATORIES, INC.; (12) ACTAVIS LLC; and (13) ACTAVIS PHARMA, INC., f/k/a WATSON PHARMA, INC., Defendants.

CORE TERMS

opioid, nuisance, pain, abate, addiction, marketing, misleading, training, messages, costs, Crisis, prescribing, sales representative, investigators, dissemination, programs, pain management, promoted, commercial speech, public nuisance, manufacturers, prescription, overdose, dollars, yearly, regulation, personnel, patients, drugs, sales