Proposed Purdue Settlement Bears Positive Effects on I-75 Corridor Opioid Lawsuit

National agreement would settle complaints brought against Purdue by cities/counties, but leaves other defendants to be pursued in court

JACKSBORO, Tenn. — A proposed multi-billion dollar settlement and bankruptcy filing by Purdue Pharma in the national opioid multi-district litigation (MDL) is bearing multiple effects on what is known as the I-75 Corridor opioid lawsuit — including the settlement of complaints brought against the pharmaceutical giant by local cities and counties.

Other manufacturer defendants and distributors remain to be pursued, attorneys say.

The lawsuit was jointly filed on Sept. 29, 2017, in Campbell County Circuit Court in Jacksboro by the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, and later amended to also include the Fourth Judicial District. The complaint lists prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and alleged local distributors.

“While the agreement — if approved by the bankruptcy court — settles claims made by my office, and on behalf of cities and counties against Purdue, it does not satisfy our complaints against the remaining defendants,” says Jared Effler, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Eighth Judicial District. “More than one pharmaceutical company helped create this crisis. Mallinckrodt, Endo and Teva played significant roles in the overprescription and diversion of opioids in our region, and Purdue’s actions will not alter our focus on holding them accountable, whether in circuit court or bankruptcy proceedings.”

The I-75 Corridor opioid lawsuit is one of three filed in Tennessee by district attorneys general against pharmaceutical manufacturers and other defendants who have contributed to the state’s opioid crisis. In all, 14 district attorneys general representing 47 counties — nearly half the entire state — have joined forces to challenge pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the opioid epidemic.

That show of solidarity has been instrumental in convincing the industry to face up to its actions, says Gerard Stranch, managing partner of Nashville-based Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J).

“The district attorneys general who have spoken out on behalf of their cities and communities — many of which are rural areas — should be credited for their tenacity in standing up to Big Pharma,” Stranch says. “They are the ones whose offices expend thousands of hours and millions of dollars prosecuting opioid-related crimes, and they were the first to challenge the manufacturers and distributors in court for their actions. It is their right to hold these companies accountable and also to ensure that financial resources are returned to the communities that have been ravaged by years of overprescription and diversion.”

The I-75 Corridor suit will go to trial in the near future.

“In the two years since we filed this claim, we’ve gathered a massive amount of data on the harmful practices the defendants employed in their pursuit of profit,” Stranch says. “We look forward to sharing this information with the court.”

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

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Proposed Purdue Settlement Bears Positive Effects on Sullivan Baby Doe Opioid Lawsuit

National agreement would settle complaints brought against Purdue by cities/counties, but leaves other defendants to be pursued in court

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — A proposed multi-billion dollar settlement and bankruptcy filing by Purdue Pharma in the national opioid multi-district litigation (MDL) is bearing multiple effects on East Tennessee’s Sullivan Baby Doe suit — including the settlement of complaints brought against the pharmaceutical giant by local cities and counties.

Other manufacturer defendants and distributors remain to be pursued, attorneys say.

The Sullivan Baby Doe suit was jointly filed on June 13, 2017, by the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s First, Second and Third Judicial Districts in Sullivan County Circuit Court in Kingsport, Tennessee. The complaint lists prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt PLC, Endo Pharmaceuticals, a pill mill doctor and other convicted opioid dealers as defendants.

“While the agreement — if approved by the bankruptcy court — settles claims made by my office, and on behalf of cities and counties against Purdue, it does not satisfy our complaints against the remaining defendants,” says Barry Staubus, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Second Judicial District. “More than one pharmaceutical company helped create this crisis. Mallinckrodt and Endo played significant roles in the overprescription and diversion of opioids in our region, and Purdue’s actions will not alter our focus on holding them accountable, whether in circuit court or bankruptcy proceedings.”

The Sullivan Baby Doe suit is one of three filed in Tennessee by district attorneys general against pharmaceutical manufacturers and other defendants who have contributed to the state’s opioid crisis. In all, 14 district attorneys general representing 47 counties — nearly half the entire state — have joined forces to challenge pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the opioid epidemic.

That show of solidarity has been instrumental in convincing the industry to face up to its actions, says Gerard Stranch, managing partner of Nashville-based Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J).

“The district attorneys general who have spoken out on behalf of their cities and communities — many of which are rural areas — should be credited for their tenacity in standing up to Big Pharma,” Stranch says. “They are the ones whose offices expend thousands of hours and millions of dollars prosecuting opioid-related crimes, and they were the first to challenge the manufacturers and distributors in court for their actions. It is their right to hold these companies accountable and also to ensure that financial resources are returned to the communities that have been ravaged by years of overprescription and diversion.”

In East Tennessee, the Sullivan Baby Doe suit is expected to go to trial in 2020.

“In the more than two years since we filed this claim, we’ve gathered a massive amount of data on the harmful practices the defendants employed in their pursuit of profit,” Stranch says. “We look forward to sharing this information with the court.”

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

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Judge Overturns Dismissal of I-75 Corridor Opioid Suit

Lawsuit against prescription opioid producers to move forward again

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A landmark regional opioid suit brought by six Tennessee district attorney generals against major pharmaceutical manufacturers is back on track.

Judge D. Michael Swiney, Tennessee Court of Appeals at Knoxville, ruled today to reverse last fall’s judgment by Eighth Judicial District Judge John D. McAfee granting multiple motions from pharmaceutical producers to dismiss what is known as the I-75 Corridor opioid lawsuit.

In his ruling, Judge Swiney determined that drug manufacturers can be liable under Tennessee’s Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA), and that the manufacturer defendants did not meet their burden in their motion to dismiss the claim. The case has now been remanded to the Trial Court.

The lawsuit was jointly filed on Sept. 29, 2017, in Campbell County Circuit Court in Jacksboro by the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, and later amended to also include the Fourth Judicial District.

“This is a substantial victory for the cities and counties represented in this case, and sound affirmation of our complaint,” says Jared Effler, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Eighth Judicial District. “The court clearly recognizes the rights of district attorneys to bring suit on behalf of their constituents, and also agrees that pharmaceutical companies and distributors can be challenged under the DDLA — particularly when these companies knowingly inflict harm on the public, as we believe the defendants have done over a span of many years. We look forward to bringing this case to trial and holding these companies accountable for the damage they have inflicted.”

The complaint lists prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

“The manufacturer defendants knowingly flooded the affected areas with drugs they knew would later be diverted,” says J. Gerard Stranch, managing partner for Nashville, Tennessee-based law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC. “They actively enabled events from the top down for the sake of profit and knowingly participated in Tennessee’s illegal drug market. That is the basis for civil liability under the DDLA, whether the activity happens in a back alley or at a corporation’s headquarters. We look forward to presenting the facts to a jury in the near future.”

The I-75 Corridor suit, which focuses on an area designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), 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.

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

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BS&J Managing Partner Appointed as Counsel to Negotiation Class for National Opioid Litigation

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Nashville-based Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings (BS&J), PLLC announces the appointment of managing partner Gerard Stranch as counsel for the negotiation class in the pending multi-district national prescription opioid litigation (MDL 2804) in Cleveland, Ohio.

More than 1,500 cases involving U.S. states, counties, cities and other entities have been consolidated into the MDL. The 49 plaintiffs allege that “the manufacturers of prescription opioids grossly misrepresented the risks of long-term use of those drugs for persons with chronic pain, and distributors failed to properly monitor suspicious orders of those prescription drugs ― all of which contributed to the current opioid epidemic.” The defendants include major pharmaceutical manufacturers Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt PLC, distributors McKesson Corporation and Cardinal Health, and major retailers, such as CVS RX Services, Inc.

“I am honored to be appointed to the negotiation class for this complex and pivotal litigation,” Stranch says. “The class provides a tool for the plaintiffs to engage more effectively in settlement discussions, take coordinated action in a comprehensive settlement process, and allocate settlement funds among the entire class at both the state and the city/county levels.

“Throughout this process, it is important to note that the opioid epidemic has impacted rural communities at a much higher rate than urban centers,” Stranch says. “Smaller towns and counties where resources have never been plentiful to begin with are now experiencing disproportionate amounts of suffering. In order to be fair, we should keep in mind that the distribution of settlement funds should accurately reflect the amount of damage inflicted by this crisis.”

Among the six appointees to the proposed class, Stranch is one of three affiliated with a private law firm. The case is currently scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in October.

For more information about MDL 2840, visit https://www.ohnd.uscourts.gov/mdl-2804.

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About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)  

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2019, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.

Judge Returns Opioid Lawsuit to Tennessee State Court

Ruling denies request by major pharmaceutical distributor to remove the case to federal level

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A ruling issued May 22, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has helped clear the way for a 19-county lawsuit against major opioid producers and distributors to move forward in state court.

The ruling, issued by Judge Aleta A. Trauger, denied a motion by McKesson, a pharmaceutical distributor and defendant in the case, to remove the case to federal court. Trauger also denied a joint motion by the defendants to stay proceedings. The case has now been returned to the Circuit Court of Cumberland County where it awaits trial.

Plaintiffs bringing suit against a number of opioid producers and distributors include the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Thirteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-Second and Thirty-First Judicial Districts. Included in that group is lead district attorney for the case, Bryant C. Dunaway, who represents Tennessee’s Thirteenth Judicial District.

“We are very pleased with Judge Trauger’s decision to deny removal of the case to federal court,” says Dunaway. “We continue to work toward our goal of holding the defendants accountable for the deliberate and illegal distribution of Schedule II narcotics in our state, and the damage they have brought to our region as a result. We look forward to trying this case on behalf of Baby Doe and the communities we represent.”

The 2018 suit brings two causes of action under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA) against producer defendants Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; along with pill mills and drug dealers. Count I is brought on behalf of plaintiff Baby Doe, while Count II is brought by the district attorneys general on behalf of their respective districts and the 19 counties they represent. The suit demands judgment against the defendants for damages, seeks restitution for the plaintiffs and an injunction to stop the flood of opioids to the region.

“We applaud today’s ruling that ‘when a state such as Tennessee has crafted an independent response to opioid abuse that does not rely on federal law to impose liability, the appropriate forum for such causes of action are state courts,’” says Gerard Stranch, managing partner for Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings (BS&J) PLLC of Nashville. “In this case the defendants failed to establish a recognized basis for federal jurisdiction, and we’re very pleased that the way has been cleared for this complaint to move to trial.”

This week’s memorandum and order followed a Cumberland County Circuit Court ruling last February denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case and declaring that the lawsuit could move forward in litigation.

Visit www.tnbabydoe.com for additional facts, resources and documentation surrounding this issue.

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Canadian National Railway Co. Countersues Former Exec, Demands Multi-Millions in Damages

Action prompts filing of amendment to original discrimination complaint

MEMPHIS — On the heels of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former executive of Canadian National Railway Company (CN), the company and two subsidiaries have struck back with their own lawsuit, along with a demand for a seven-figure monetary punishment.

The suit, filed Tuesday, April 16, comes in response to a March 2019 complaint by former General Manager Tracy Miller that outlines CN’s actions of discrimination and interference with his opportunities for future employment. CN subsidiaries Illinois Central Railway Co. (IC) and Grand Trunk Corporation joined their parent company in the counterclaim.

The March complaint filed by Miller, who was employed with CN and IC from 1994 to 2019, alleges that despite his excellent employee record and high regard by his peers, he was passed over for promotion at least five times beginning in 2015, while white employees with less experience and time with the company advanced instead.

Nashville-based Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings (BS&J) has now filed a second amended complaint on Miller’s behalf, incorporating the retaliatory suit in its argument for evidence of discrimination. The claim was filed April 22, 2019, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis.

“Months after Mr. Miller’s departure from the company, CN continues to engage in vindictive conduct against him,” said Joe P. Leniski Jr., attorney with BS&J. “As stated in our second amended complaint, CN only began pressing for the return of resources gained through the exercise of his well-earned stock options once Mr. Miller brought his claims of discrimination — even though CN has been in possession of all facts within their counterclaim for several months. This timing clearly demonstrates an intent to intimidate Mr. Miller for his action in asking to be offered the same respect and opportunities as CN’s white employees.”

Miller’s initial claim, filed in March, alleges that the defendants discriminated against Miller because of his race. Additionally, the claim alleges that the defendants are preventing Miller from accepting employment with Canadian Pacific Railway or other competitors by selectively enforcing a non-compete covenant against him. The suit notes instances in which CN did not enforce similar covenants against six white CN employees who left the company to join industry competitors.

CN’s counterclaim alleges breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and unjust entitlement. It seeks an order disgorging the amounts Miller received from stock options, an award of damages in excess of $1 million, and other damages and fees.

“This is an instance where a multi-billion dollar corporation is targeting the life work and savings of one individual, asking for exorbitant damages in repayment for wages and options that Miller has fairly earned,” Leniski said. “It also attempts to block him from accepting employment equal to his experience, an act that CN should understand is vindictive and unfair, especially in light of their past requirements for in-house training on matters of equal opportunity employment.”

Miller’s initial claim marked the fifth time in 10 years that an employee has brought suit against CN on the grounds of racial discrimination. This comes despite a 2010 consent decree in which CN and its subsidiaries agreed to implement substantial and regular anti-bias training for its Human Resources and management staff.

Additional information about the suit can be found at www.bsjfirm.com.

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About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)  

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2019, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.

Fifth Lawsuit Filed Against Canadian National Railway Co., Illinois Central Railroad Co. for Alleged Racial Discrimination, Retaliation

CHICAGO — For the fifth time in the past 10 years, Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Illinois Central Railroad Co. (IC), have been named defendants in a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J) of Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Tracy Miller, who was employed with IC and CN from 1994 to 2019. The suit seeks redress for alleged racial discrimination and retaliation, listing multiple times when Miller, who is African-American and served as a general manager for more than 12 years, was passed over for promotion to the position of vice president of Operations. Instead, the company consistently chose to promote white individuals to that title, despite Miller having more experience and an employee service record that noted he consistently exceeded expectations and was well-regarded by peers.

Additionally, when Miller received an offer of employment with industry competitor Canadian Pacific Railway, CN used a non-compete covenant based on the exercise of stock options to prevent him from accepting the job. The same covenant went unenforced in multiple cases where white executives accepted employment with other industry competitors.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, March 8, 2019, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis, alleges that the defendants’ actions constitute racial discrimination and intentional interference with business relationships. Miller seeks damages in the form of lost compensation and benefits, compensatory damages for the emotional distress and reputational injury he has suffered because of the defendants’ actions, and attorney fees and costs.

“This lawsuit was filed on behalf of a gentleman who demonstrated a consistent sense of company loyalty and who maintained a spotless service record for more than two decades,” said attorney Joe P. Leniski Jr. of BS&J, a law firm focused on labor and employment law. “Mr. Miller did everything that CN asked of him, including moving his family throughout the U.S. and Canada five times in 10 years, all while watching other individuals with less experience be granted the title he sought to earn. When Mr. Miller was presented the opportunity to advance with a different company, CN threatened legal action under a covenant that, to date, has not been enacted against white employees. Because of this, Mr. Miller has now sustained damages in the form of lost compensation, career advancement and reputation. He has also suffered emotional distress and frustration. All of this comes as a result of the defendants’ unlawful discrimination against him, which appears to be based on his race.”

The lawsuit alleges that CN not only refused to promote Miller because of his race, but has unfairly prohibited him from accepting new and better opportunities within the industry he has worked his entire life.

“Mr. Miller takes great pride in his work,” said Leniski. “This is a man who has proven himself successful, reliable and trustworthy over many years of service. In return for his loyalty, CN systematically overlooked him and intentionally held him back when he attempted to better his situation for himself and his family. This is the fifth time in ten years that such a complaint has been made against CN, and we are bringing this claim not only in the effort to restore Mr. Miller’s right to pursue excellence in his career, but to also bring awareness to CN’s actions in the hope that others do not have to suffer the same kind of discrimination.”

Additional information about the suit can be found at www.bsjfirm.com.

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About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)  

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2019, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against United Community Bank for Alleged Improper Overdraft Fee Practices

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J) of Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a class action lawsuit against United Community Bank (UCB), a regional bank headquartered in Georgia with locations in three additional states, including Tennessee. BS&J filed the lawsuit with Cohen & Malad, LLP (C&M) of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The suit was filed Wednesday, May 16, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Plaintiff Dennis A. Jones, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated throughout the U.S., filed the suit seeking redress for UCB’s alleged routine practice of assessing overdraft fees on debit card transactions that did not overdraw checking account available balances, along with multiple insufficient funds fees on a single transaction. The lawsuit is brought as a class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

“United Community Bank’s improper debit card fee practices are costing Dennis Jones, and many others like him, exorbitant sums and taking away a substantial percentage of income,” said Gerard Stranch, managing partner of BS&J. “Their practice of conducting authorized-positive, settled-negative transactions is deceptive and bears potential impact on all of UCB’s clients. UCB’s customers should be aware of the bank’s practices and the frequency with which they result in significant, unforeseen, personal cost to customers.”

The lawsuit alleges that:

  • UCB breached the terms of its account documents by charging overdraft fees on transactions that were authorized into a sufficient available balance, but whose balances were allegedly insufficient at the time the transactions were settled;
  • UCB breached the terms of its account documents by charging multiple insufficient funds fees on a single transaction;
  • UCB breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing through its overdraft policies and procedures; and
  • UCB engaged in deceptive acts or practices relating to the imposition of overdraft fees on consumers in violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act.

“It is our hope that Mr. Jones, representing the class on behalf of which this lawsuit was filed, can put a stop to UCB’s unfair and improper fee practices,” said Lynn Toops, a partner at C&M. “UCB’s customers put their trust in the bank to comply with its own promises. Those customers who have been victimized by UCB’s improper practices, in direct violation of the bank’s promises, have suffered considerable financial losses. It is our goal to not only be granted restoration of these improper fees, but to hold UCB accountable for their wrongful actions.”

The plaintiff and fellow class members demand a jury trial and judgments that include:

  • Declaring UCB’s overdraft fee policies and practices to be wrongful;
  • Ordering UCB to cease its conduct regarding overdraft fees;
  • Restitution of all overdraft fees paid to UCB by the plaintiff and classes as a result of the alleged wrongful practices; and
  • Actual and punitive damages.

Additional information about the suit and the firms can be found at www.bsjfirm.com and www.cohenandmalad.com.

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About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)  

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was recently named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.

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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Nashville-based Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings Announces Firm Expansion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings (BS&J), PLLC of Nashville has announced the expansion of the firm and the addition of one new member, David Suetholz, who previously served as head of the Kentucky Department of Labor and as managing partner of Kircher, Suetholz & Associates (KS&A), PSC.

The expansion also includes four additional attorneys, all formerly of KS&A.

“We’re delighted to welcome the talent and expertise of the Kircher Suetholz team to the BS&J family of attorneys,” said Gerard Stranch, managing partner of BS&J. “We look forward to collaborating in shared practice areas and serving a greater number of clients throughout Ohio and Kentucky.”

With the opening of offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky, the new BS&J attorneys will specialize in union representation, employment litigation and workers’ compensation. Their collective expertise will augment BS&J’s broad array of practice areas, including more than 65 years of labor union side representation, class actions, employment, shareholder derivative, securities, and other complex cases heard in Tennessee and in federal courts throughout the U.S.

“Our team has a passion for serving the working families of our region and speaking out on behalf of their interests,” said Suetholz. “BS&J shares that passion, and we are proud to continue this important work under their banner.”

Founded in 1952, BS&J is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

For additional information, visit www.bsjfirm.com.

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About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)  

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally.