July 3, 2019In the News

Benson quoted in Law360's article, "Product Liability Cases To Watch: Midyear Review"


Michael Best Partner Paul Benson was quoted in Law360's article, "Product Liability Cases To Watch: Midyear Review" on July 3, 2019.

For the rest of 2019, product liability attorneys will be closely watching Oklahoma's case alleging Johnson & Johnson fueled the opioid epidemic with reckless sales practices and whether a novel approach in the federal multidistrict litigation over the opioid crisis will tee up a global settlement.

In addition, attorneys say they're keeping an eye on the litigation Boeing is facing after two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max 8 aircraft and suits alleging that 3M Co.'s faulty military earplugs made soldiers develop tinnitus and lose hearing.

Here's is a look at those and other cases to watch in the second half of 2019.

Oklahoma Opioid Trial

The Oklahoma attorney general's claim that Johnson & Johnson recklessly fed the opioid crisis has caught the attention of attorneys across the nation as the Sooner State's case is the first to go to trial of about 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by states and municipalities, with potentially billions of dollars at stake.

The defendants in the suit brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter were winnowed down to just J&J, after Purdue Pharma LLP and Teva Pharmaceuticals settled for $270 million and $85 million, respectively.

The state's suit centers entirely on the legal theory that J&J's opioid marketing activities created a public nuisance. Under Oklahoma law, a public nuisance is broadly defined as an illegal action or failure to carry out a duty that results in annoying, injuring or endangering the "comfort, repose, health, or safety of others."

Public nuisance claims have been brought by other state attorneys general and municipalities against opioid manufacturers and distributors, and attorneys will be watching to see how the outcome of Oklahoma's case affects those suits.

"Whatever happens in Oklahoma vis-a-vis J&J is going to be argued, irrespective of who wins, as being the template for all of the stuff that is currently occupying the docket in Ohio and everywhere else," said Paul Benson of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

To read the entire Law360 article, click here.


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