Opioid Crisis: The lawsuits that could bankrupt manufacturers and distributors

August 26, 2019

The attorney behind a multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement in 1998 has turned his attention to the opioid epidemic. And he wants drug companies to pay

Editor's Note: A judge in Oklahoma has ruled that Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the state's opioid crisis and has ordered the company to pay $572 million for its role. Recently, "60 Minutes" reported on Mike Moore, an attorney representing state and local governments that, like Oklahoma, are taking drug makers to court. Below is a transcript of that story.

Last month, the first of an avalanche of lawsuits filed against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers went to trial. The state of Oklahoma is trying to convince a judge that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson is legally responsible for the epidemic of addiction and death caused by opioids.  

Oklahoma is not alone. There is a national movement by state and local governments to go after opioid manufacturers. At its center is attorney Mike Moore.  

Moore says he's "just a country lawyer from Mississippi." But he has engineered two of the most lucrative legal settlements in American history; the 1998 case in which Big Tobacco paid billions to address smoking-related health issues, and the 2015 settlement with oil giant BP over its huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now Mike Moore, along with his legal allies, has taken aim at the opioid industry. As we first reported late last year, he says he has powerful new evidence that proves states like Ohio, among the hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic, should collect billions from all the companies he's suing.

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