In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation

Firm: O'Melveny & Myers

Issue Area: Pharma and Tobacco

Case summary

O'Melveny & Myers defended Johnson & Johnson, an opioid manufacturer, in numerous lawsuits across the country alleging deceptive marketing and sale of opioids including OxyContin. The marketing and over-prescription of opioids has killed hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. O'Melveney's website boasts of its representation of Johnson & Johnson. "In what The New York Times calls 'one of the most complicated and gargantuan legal battles in American history,' O’Melveny is lead litigation counsel for Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals as the companies confront thousands of claims seeking to hold them liable for the country’s opioid-abuse epidemic. . . O’Melveny is handling the appeal while simultaneously litigating additional opioids cases for Johnson & Johnson in almost every state in the country." The firm notes that it limited the recovery of plaintiffs, who were the victims of the deceptive practices that earned corporations millions: "the final sum is 2.63% of the billions sought by the State." In its briefiing, O'Melveny argued that the deceptive practices of its client were too attenuated for injured plaintiffs to recover: "The remoteness of Plaintiffs’ proposed causal chain is compounded by two factors—each of which independently breaks that chain: (1) prescribing physicians’ exercise of independent medical judgment as “learned intermediaries” when prescribing pharmaceutical products; and (2) intervening third-party criminal acts that directly caused the claimed societal harms."

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