Health officials report Oklahoma's first vaping illness

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health says the first case of vaping related lung illness has been confirmed in the state.

Department spokeswoman Jamie Dukes said Thursday only that the patient is a Tulsa County resident under age 18.

Dukes says state health officials earlier this month asked health care providers to report any cases of severe pulmonary disease of unknown origin and a history of recent e-cigarette use or vaping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday 12 deaths and 805 confirmed and probable cases have now been reported nationwide.

Most patients have said they vaped products containing THC, which gives marijuana its high, but some patients say they vaped only nicotine. Officials are advising people to avoid any vaping product until the cause is better understood.

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Court upholds death penalty in Oklahoma woman's fiery death

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the death penalty given a man convicted of setting his girlfriend on fire, causing her death.

The court Thursday handed down the ruling to 36-year-old Donnie Harris of Talihina, who was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of 25-year-old Kristi Ferguson of Pocola.

Among other things, the court rejected claims that Harris did not receive a fair trial.

Harris was accused of dowsing Ferguson with gasoline and setting her on fire on Feb. 18, 2012. She suffered second- and third-degree burns over 50% of her body and died 19 days later.

A Le Flore County jury convicted Harris and recommended the death penalty after finding the murder especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.

Harris' attorney, Kristi Christopher, declined comment on the ruling.

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Johnson & Johnson appeals Oklahoma's $572M opioid ruling

By SEAN MURPHY Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson is appealing an Oklahoma judge's $572 million order against the company and its subsidiaries for helping fuel the state's opioid crisis.

The company filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday, arguing the ruling was an "unprecedented interpretation of Oklahoma public nuisance law."

The judge's decision that the marketing and sale of a lawful product can constitute a public nuisance could have grave implications for all businesses that operate in the state, the company warned.

"That novel ruling has immense public-policy implications, undermining product-liability law rules, which have always governed disputes over the marketing and sales of goods, and threatening wide-ranging liability for companies that do business in Oklahoma," attorneys wrote in the appeal.

In his ruling last month, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman ordered the company to pay $572 million to help address the damage the opioid crisis has caused in the state. Attorneys for the company have said that figure was grossly inflated.

The state had presented the judge with a plan to abate the crisis that would have cost between $12.6 billion for 20 years to $17.5 billion over 30 years.

A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said their office is reviewing the appeal.

Oklahoma's case was closely watched because it was the first among more than 1,500 similar lawsuits against drugmakers and others involved in the sale of opioids filed by state, local and tribal governments to proceed to trial.

Before the trial began, Oklahoma reached settlements totaling $355 million from two other groups of defendant drugmakers, including Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma and Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, the first step in a plan it says would provide $10 billion to $12 billion to help reimburse state and local governments for the costs associated with cleaning up the damage from the opioid crisis.

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Oklahoma man dies in fall into Arkansas mountain ravine

MORRILTON, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma man was killed when he fell into a ravine on a central Arkansas mountain.

Conway County Coroner Dennis Decker says 59-year-old Lonny Fennell of Collinsville, Oklahoma, was found dead Tuesday on Petit Jean Mountain.

Decker says it appears Fennell was walking between cabins at Mather Lodge on the mountain when he fell about 60 feet (18 meters) from a cliff or the ground gave way.

Decker says Fennell was last seen about 3 p.m. Tuesday and was reported missing about 6 p.m. Decker said park rangers were able to track Fennell's cellphone and find his body.

The mountain is near Morrilton, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock.