Tennessee Supreme Court Declines to Hear Big Pharma Appeal on I-75 Corridor Opioid Suit

Lawsuit cleared to move forward in litigation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Monday, Feb. 24, it was announced that the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from multiple opioid producer defendants that would have provided another opportunity for those companies to argue that they should be dismissed from the I-75 Corridor opioid lawsuit.

Instead, the court’s action preserves a previous finding in the court of appeals that the case should move forward, and effectively affirms plaintiffs’ legal theories.

Companies seeking the appeal included Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

“This is a significant milestone in this case and yet another confirmation of our cause,” said Jared Effler, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Eighth Judicial District. “For more than two years, these companies have been trying to delay and derail this litigation so that they do not have to confront the obvious results of their predatory business practices. We are determined to hold them accountable for the harm they have caused and return any financial settlement to the Tennessee cities and counties where the damage has been done.”

Following the decision, plaintiffs are advocating for a trial date to be set within months.

The I-75 Corridor lawsuit was initially filed on Sept. 29, 2017, in Campbell County Circuit Court in Jacksboro, Tennessee, 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 is against 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 lawsuit also names two additional plaintiffs, known collectively as Baby Doe, by and through their Guardians Ad Litem. Additional defendants named in the filing include the (now-dissolved) Tennessee Pain Institute (TPI), two former TPI employees and a convicted drug dealer.

Since the 2017 filing, Purdue Pharma, L.P., declared bankruptcy in an effort to settle numerous opioid-related cases nationwide. Claims against Purdue in the case are being pursued in bankruptcy court.

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

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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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