Judge Denies Big Pharma Attempt to Name Cities, Counties in Opioid Countersuit

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Second Judicial District Chancellor E.G. Moody issued rulings today on multiple motions and complaints related to the Sullivan Baby Doe suit, including consideration of a third-party complaint brought as a countersuit by opioid manufacturers Endo and Mallinckrodt.

The third-party complaint alleged, among other things, that cities and counties could be named as defendants in opioid litigation under the Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA) and held accountable for not allocating enough resources to combat the epidemic. It also leveled claims of accountability at regional law enforcement for not doing enough to prevent prescription opioids from entering the illegal drug trade.

Moody dismissed the significant majority of the suit’s claims, affirming in his comments that the DDLA does not apply to governmental entities or localities, and that outside parties cannot dictate how government entities allocate resources intended for the protection of the public. With specific regard to a list of non-governmental parties that included suspected online drug dealers and pill mills, Moody allowed claims to stand, but stayed proceedings other than to serve notice to defendants.

“We’re very pleased with Judge Moody’s decisions in the courtroom today,” says J. Gerard Stranch, managing partner for Nashville, Tennessee-based law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC. “His dismissal of the countersuit’s central claims shows that they were largely without merit, other than to share information about suspected drug dealers that we have asked them to provide all along. This was nothing more than a stunt by these companies to intimidate others and an attempt to distract from their own wrongdoing. We look forward to the continuation of discovery and to trying the Sullivan Baby Doe suit in court.”

Moody also:

  • Dismissed a request for interlocutory appeal filed by the producer defendants;
  • Granted a motion by the plaintiffs to compel Endo to cooperate in the discovery process, and;
  • Took under advisement requests related to testimony provided by Abdelrahman Mohamed, M.D., pending his deposition in the current case.

For additional facts, resources and documentation surrounding this issue, visit www.tnbabydoe.com.

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Judge Denies Big Pharma Motions to Dismiss Sullivan Baby Doe Opioid Suit

Lawsuit against prescription opioid producers set to move forward

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Second Judicial District Chancellor E.G. Moody issued a ruling today on multiple motions filed by prescription opioid producers to dismiss the Sullivan Baby Doe lawsuit.

The lawsuit was jointly filed on June 13, 2017, in Sullivan County Circuit Court in Kingsport, Tennessee, by the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s First, Second and Third Judicial Districts.

Chancellor Moody denied the motions to dismiss, and ruled that the lawsuit can move forward in litigation.

The complaint lists prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt PLC, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and three convicted opioid dealers as defendants. The lawsuit also names Baby Doe, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, as an additional plaintiff.

“We greatly appreciate today’s ruling by Chancellor Moody and his decision to move forward with the lawsuit,” says J. Gerard Stranch, managing partner for Nashville, Tennessee-based law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC. “We see this as an affirmation of our arguments and a victory for our claim, and our team looks forward to trying this case on behalf of the communities represented by the district attorneys. The Northeast Tennessee region has suffered terrible consequences as a result of the opioid epidemic, which has been fueled by the actions of Purdue Pharma and other defendants. We are committed to holding those companies accountable for their actions, and to returning any financial settlement to the communities dealing with the aftermath of their actions.”

The Sullivan Baby Doe suit demands judgment against the defendants for damages, and seeks restitution for the plaintiffs and an injunction to stop the flood of opioids to the region.

“The nine counties represented in this suit have experienced an enormous influx of opioids over the past several years, stemming from the overprescribing and diversion of pills,” says Barry Staubus, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Second Judicial District. “The resulting illegal drug market that now flourishes in our region has led to huge increases in overdose deaths and babies born addicted to opioids. The defendants knowingly contributed to and participated in the illegal drug market at the expense of families and communities throughout our region. We want them to be held legally and financially accountable here in Northeast Tennessee, where the damage has been done.”

For additional facts, resources and documentation surrounding this issue, visit www.tnbabydoe.com.

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Northeast Tennessee Attorneys General File Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

Filing seeks to raise awareness of addiction epidemic in Northeast Tennessee

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The district attorneys general of Tennessee’s First, Second and Third Judicial Districts jointly filed a lawsuit today against prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma L.P., its related companies, Mallinckrodt PLC and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Filed in Sullivan County Circuit Court in Kingsport, Tennessee, the lawsuit also names a fourth plaintiff, Baby Doe by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, along with Center Pointe Medical Clinic, LLC, and two convicted opioid dealers as additional defendants.

“Tennessee has the second-highest rate of opioid addiction in the nation, as noted in the lawsuit, and Sullivan County is ground zero for opioid addiction in our state, says Barry Staubus, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Second Judicial District. “This region has experienced devastating consequences as a result of the opioid epidemic. Too many of our citizens’ lives have been turned upside down as a result of opioid abuse, and far too many have actually lost their lives from an overdose.

“In addition, opioid addiction presents a tremendous financial burden for our region, resulting in increased costs to each of our counties’ policing, health care, rehabilitation, housing and criminal justice systems,” Staubus says. “We believe there is a direct correlation between Northeast Tennessee’s opioid epidemic and Purdue Pharma’s fraudulent claims in their marketing of OxyContin® to the medical community, and it is our intent to hold them accountable for the damage they have inflicted upon our region.”

The lawsuit alleges that:

  • Purdue Pharma embarked on a fraudulent campaign to convince physicians that OxyContin created minimal risk of addiction;
  • As Purdue’s marketing efforts demonstrated success in the form of rapid increases in opioid prescriptions, Mallinckrodt, Endo Pharmaceuticals and other opioid manufacturers joined Purdue in its fraudulent scheme;
  • Purdue’s efforts and those of the other defendants to mislead doctors and the public about the need for, and addictive nature of, opioid drugs led to an opioid epidemic, created an environment for thousands of individuals in Tennessee to become addicted to opioids, and fueled a dramatic increase in Sullivan County, Tennessee, in the number of individuals exposed to, and addicted to, OxyContin, Roxicodone®, Opana ER and other opioids, and;
  • The police departments, schools, district attorneys’ offices, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and taxpayers of the state of Tennessee and Sullivan County will bear the financial burden of Purdue’s fraudulent campaign for decades to come.

“For many years, Purdue Pharma has inaccurately promoted OxyContin as being an appropriate medication for chronic pain, and being less likely than other pain medications to cause addiction,”says J. Gerard Stranch, IV, managing partner for Nashville, Tennessee-based law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC. “Their aggressive marketing of this product has resulted in an opioid epidemic that is ravaging Tennessee, causing immense suffering to those born addicted to opioids, and costing millions of dollars to local governments forced to deal with the aftermath”

Tennesseans’ addiction to opioids has created a secondary epidemic impacting the state’s newborns. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, from Jan. 1, 2017, through April 1, 2017, approximately 48 of every 1,000 births in Sullivan County were Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) cases. Children born with NAS experience agonizing withdrawal symptoms as their bodies emerge from the influence of drugs.

“We have seen a huge increase in the number of babies born with NAS as a direct result of opioid addiction,” says Lisa Carter, CEO of Niswonger Children’s Hospital. “This has become a nationwide epidemic that is most widespread right here in Northeast Tennessee.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the average cost of care for babies born with NAS is roughly 10 times more than babies born without NAS. The average cost to stabilize an NAS newborn is nearly $63,000, while the average cost for a non-NAS newborn is approximately $7,200. For the entire state of Tennessee, the care for 660 babies born with NAS cost $41.5 million for most of 2013, compared to $4.79 million for the same number born without NAS.

The lawsuit demands judgment against the defendants for damages resulting from breaches of statutory and common law, seeks to award restitution to the plaintiffs, and an injunction to stop the flood of opioids to the region.

For additional facts and information surrounding this issue, as well as a full copy of the lawsuit, please visit www.sullivanbabydoe.com.

 

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Northeast Tennessee Attorneys General to Make Significant Announcement on June 13

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Attorneys general representing the First, Second and Third Judicial Districts of Tennessee will make a joint announcement on Tuesday, June 13, at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee.

The news conference is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Niswonger Children’s Hospital is located at 400 North State of Franklin Road in Johnson City.

NOTE: Media not in attendance may view the event via live stream at https://livestream.com/accounts/323851/Northeast. To schedule media interviews with event participants following the news conference, contact Whitney Yarber at 423.793.1351 or whitney@corporatepr.com.

 

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