Joe Nocera, Bloomberg, Three Hundred Million Dollars discussed on Politics, Policy, Power and Law

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If you live in the studio it is time now to check in with Bloomberg opinion joined now by opinion columnist Joe Nocera writing about the verdict this week against Johnson and Johnson how it's driving cities states and other municipalities and an opportunity to see any company that had anything to do with opioids at all so thanks so much for joining us appreciate your time thanks for having me now I've been reading through your column here on Bloomberg opinion and you've got this reasoning that actually dates back to a case from nineteen seventy seven an electrical fire how do you square analytical out here with the well that was the first time it is fired thank you seventy seven all the aluminum wiring was described so the lawyers sit in that suit every aluminum wiring company in the country I walked up getting money from them for many of them and so in this case give me there are certainly some some real you know how did Purdue pharma this have others in the cast that there's this company that would deeply deeply involved in is in the for the manufacture and distribution and marketing of opioids but doctor that Johnson is a pretty minor player with less than one percent of the market and even the delight that they did sell were much harder to extract the bad stuff the tentacle from dead dead than other products but they have the biggest market so of course they're going to be the biggest target that's what happened in this case I see so they've got the deep pockets even though they are marginal players on the opioid field at best at best that's right and and so what happened is that I have and then produce farmer which were also sued in the same case in Oklahoma they drop they they settled they settled the case and they paid you know what I I think a combined three hundred million dollars but doctor Johnson taking that it had a better chance of winning decided to stick stick we decided to go to trial and that's what they did and they lost at this level but it's what's going to happen if the appeals court and beyond that going to be more the more interesting test case you argue ends in your column that this also has the added risk of letting the real bad players are bad actors also because all the focus would then be on Johnson Johnson well here here's why all of these lawsuits around the country this two thousand of them cities because of how the US state are they've all suit on their all using something called the public nuisance law in their jurisdictions to sue the public nuisance laws have never been use for this kind of case ever so it's a very novel use of the law so what what what's really going on here is Johnson and Johnson is the company with the financial wherewithal to say okay we are going to pass whether appeals court said maybe with the Supreme Court if it gets too it will uphold this use a public nuisance laws and Johnson and Johnson basically sixty years is going to be no that ultimately so court will will rule that these larger these laws were not intended for this kind of Johnny you know mass tort and will rule the to be an improper use if that were to happen that wouldn't just let John the Johnson off the hook that would let everybody off the hook because that's the only that's the only law that they're using to try and bring these companies to look all all I'm watching in my mind's eye I see a stone being thrown into a pond and the ripples going out and that ripple effect that guy this is what it sounds like I might also ask you this we only have about a minute and a half here but I wanted to argue also could this also be detrimental to those people who may need opioids not addicts with people who are genuinely dealing with chronic pain and need them for pain management and yet those opioid manufacturers are tied up in the legal system and in the courts fighting these lawsuits I actually don't think that'll happen our legal are they are legal product is just like cigarettes are legal product which are still on the market you know there are people who need them and that that that probably the opioid is that they were they were distributed **** nilly and doctors gave that to to many people and they either didn't understand the risks that they care about the rest but there's so much focus now and with risky as it is there's a tremendous amount of care because it's too much risk for doctors themselves to abuse to to abuse all cards to people who really need it so I think people who really need it will still be able to get it now get opioids are no matter what the outcome of this litigation all right thank you so much for taking the time with this it's been a pleasure thanks for having me Bloomberg opinion columnist Joe Nocera and you can read more on this and other stories from Bloomberg opinion at Bloomberg dot com slash opinion we also have more on the Bloomberg terminal just type P. I. N. go for Bloomberg opinion and coming up on Bloomberg politics policy power.

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