Connecticut Judge Tosses Opioid Lawsuits Against Drug Makers

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On Tuesday, January 8, Judge Thomas Moukawsher of the Hartford Superior Court dismissed opioid lawsuits filed by 37 cities and two towns in the Connecticut state against Purdue Pharma and two dozen other drug companies. The lawsuits were tossed as they were not government enforcement actions and were "ordinary civil cases" seeking damages for "indirect harm" from the opioid crisis in the nation.

Judge Moukawsher said, "their lawsuits can’t survive without proof that the people they are suing directly caused them the financial losses they seek to recoup. This puts the cities in the same position in claiming the money as the brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers of addicts who say they have also indirectly suffered losses by the opioid crisis. That is to say — under long-established law — they have no claims at all.”

City and town lawyers are still reviewing the judge's ruling and plan to appeal the decision soon. The plaintiffs, in this case, are Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury. Judge Moukawsher did not reject the entire litigation against opioid producers. This is a first of its kind dismissal of government lawsuits in the recent rounds of litigation against opioid manufacturers. Last month an Ohio federal judge rejected a request by drugmakers to dismiss claims brought by local governments and other groups. Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based company, denied allegations in lawsuits that it indulged in false marketing to improve sales of its painkiller drug OxyContin.

More than 50,000 Americans died due to a drug overdose in 2017, and the toll has been spiking for two decades according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the U.S. District Court overlooks the opioid litigation in the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division.

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