Florida Record

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Florida Chamber voices concern over public nuisance law in wake of opioid verdict against J&J

Lawsuits

By Marian Johns | Sep 6, 2019


TALLAHASSEE — The recent landmark case in Oklahoma brought against Johnson & Johnson over prescription opioids that resulted in a $572 million judgment has caused some concerns among business organizations, including Florida's Chamber of Commerce, that fears the application of the public nuisance law could reverberate in other industries. 

Many critics of Johnson & Johnson ruling question applying public nuisance law to the case since it does not call for proving a certain action by a company that resulted in harm. 

Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson said he has concerns if the ruling could open up Florida companies as well as those in other states to a flurry of public nuisance law claims. 

"The short answer is yes," Wilson recently told the Florida Record. "We believe personal injury trial lawyers here in Florida are following the case with baited breath but it should not fester if public nuisance laws are appropriately applied in other jurisdictions."

Wilson said that setting a precedent for using public nuisance law as in the Johnson & Johnson case, will only lead to big "paydays" for some lawyers and money for state governments without actually solving the complicated issues of opioid addiction. 

"Billboard trial lawyers continue to look for bigger and bigger paydays and capitalizing on the very real and complex opioid addiction issues facing many seems to be next," Wilson said. "The flimsy reliance on public nuisance laws by Oklahoma's lawyers is little more than a construct to create a desired outcome - money for state government coffers, regardless of whether or not a causal connection between one company's product and a macro-level outcome is proven. Regrettably, we'll see more money pumped into systemic litigation, which historically enriches only a handful of lawyers."

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