Ending the Epidemic of Public-Nuisance Litigation

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Courts are right to deny public-nuisance claims in opioid litigation.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he opioid crisis has spawned a rash of litigation, with thousands of pending state and federal cases threatening to penalize legitimate prescription opioid makers. But a welcome decision by the Oklahoma supreme court last week challenges the legal basis for nearly all of the lawsuits, which attempt to treat opioid marketing as a “public nuisance.”

Injured parties have a legal right to obtain redress from a public nuisance, which is defined as an “unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public.” Usually, public-nuisance actions are brought against alleged environmental wrongs such as noxious smells, loud noises, and pollution.

But in

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