In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation

589 F. Supp. 3d 790 (2022)

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In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation

United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
589 F. Supp. 3d 790 (2022)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart (the pharmacies) (defendants) intentionally dispensed large quantities of prescription opioids to customers in Lake County and Trumbull County, Ohio (the counties) (plaintiffs). The pharmacies failed to impose legally required safeguards designed to prevent the dispensed opioids from being diverted into the black market. The dispensed opioids directly contributed to the deadly opioid crisis afflicting the counties. The counties filed a mass tort action against the pharmacies, alleging that the pharmacies had created a public nuisance by knowingly, unlawfully, and dangerously dispensing huge quantities of opioids in a way that endangered public health and safety. The pharmacies countered, arguing that (1) the counties had failed to present sufficient evidence demonstrating that the pharmacies had knowingly and intentionally engaged in unlawful dispensing of opioids, (2) the counties had failed to establish that the pharmacies’ conduct was the proximate cause of the opioid crisis, (3) the counties’ public-nuisance claim was precluded by Ohio’s Product Liability Act, (4) the counties had failed to establish that the pharmacies’ conduct had interfered with a public right, and (5) the pharmacies could not be held liable for creating a public nuisance because the pharmacies were no longer engaging in the challenged opioid-dispensing conduct. The jury found that the pharmacies were liable for creating a public nuisance. The pharmacies challenged the jury’s verdict by filing a motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Polster, J.)

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