Walgreens Settles $683M Opioid Lawsuit With Florida
The state of Florida has reached a $683 million settlement with the Walgreens pharmacy over a lawsuit that accuses the company of improper distribution of opioid painkillers that resulted in the opioid crisis.
The deal was finalized after four weeks of government evidence was presented at trial. The total count of the settlement amount to be allotted to the state of Florida is now $3 billion, which would be used to tackle opioid addiction and overdoses. Many other defendants have settled with the state, and Walgreens is the 12th and final defendant to make a settlement with Florida. As per the deal, the company will pay $620 million to the state over 18 years, and the attorneys will get $63 million as their fees.
The attorney general for Florida said in a news conference in Tampa that the state is ready to battle this manmade crisis of opioids and is glad to end the litigation. The company even denies all the wrongdoings accused as per the deal.
Earlier, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., Johnson & Johnson Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. have paid millions of dollars in opioid settlements to Florida.
Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma which makes OxyContin has an uncertain nationwide deal where the members of the family will pay $6 billion in cash as the opioid settlement. As per reports, a total of $45 billion payout has been approved nationwide since 2007 in all settlements, and civil and criminal penalties.
Over the past two decades, more than 500,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S. due to the opioid epidemic. OxyContin, generic oxycodone and drugs such as heroin and illegally produced fentanyl are to be blamed for this large number of deaths.
Monsanto's Ex CEO To Testify In Roundup Trial
Bayer AG faces the first Roundup trial outside the state of California, where the ex-chief executive officer of Monsanto will testify over the cancer risks associated with the weedkiller.
As per the lawsuit, the former Roundup user alleges that he got diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma because of the company's weedkiller. The lawsuit even alleges that the company knowingly withheld the side effects of the weedkiller that it causes cancer. The user informed that he would not have used the product if he would have been informed about the consequences earlier.
The opening arguments would be heard by the jurors in Kansas City, Missouri. Bayer intended to acquire Monsanto in September 2016 and completed the sale in May 2018 after the approval of the European Union and the United States. Since then, the company has paid billions to settle tens of thousands of cases and still faces about 30,000 suits over the product.
Earlier, the state's appeals' court upheld a ruling in a Missouri case where a judge ordered Monsanto’s ex-CEO to testify. Monsanto has earlier lost three cases outside California where the company will pay almost $50 million in damages for each consumer and defeated two other cases.
The spokesperson for Bayer responded to the lawsuit by stating that it has sympathy for the user, but Roundup isn’t responsible for his illness as per the extensive research conducted by the company. The company even said that the testimony from its former CEO is not necessary after he gave a five-hour deposition, but it believes that his testimony will only strengthen the argument. The testimony would help the company to get rid of the thousands of future suits.
Monsanto was led by the ex-CEO from 2003 until 2018 when Bayer bought it for $63 billion. As per the court filings, he was the sole decision-maker of the company over those 15 years who looked after the marketing and sale of Roundup.
Bayer indicated that if the high court refuses to review the Californian plaintiff's $25 million award, then it will add another $4.5 billion to the $11 billion which the company has kept aside to resolve the Roundup lawsuits.
Washington To Get $518M From Opioid Distributors
Drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health have reached a $518 million settlement with Washington over the companies' role in fueling the opioid epidemic in the state.
As per the agreement, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal will each pay $160.5 million, whereas McKesson will pay $197 million of the settlement amount to the state. It is one of the largest settlements in the history of the Washington state.
Earlier, Washington refused to be a part of the national opioid settlement worth $26 billion, which involved Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and three drug distributors. The settlement was finalized in February, when the state would have received $417.9 million from McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.
The attorney representing Washington said that the state would have participated in the national opioid settlement involving the largest opioid distributors but chose to fight the companies in the court as it would allow Washington additional resources to combat the opioid crisis.
In a November trial, the state accused the drug distributors failed to prevent pills from being diverted for illegal use. The trial took place in King County Superior Court, where the state sought $38.2 billion to fund treatment.
The drug distributors denied the wrongdoings by rejecting all the allegations against them but claimed that the settlement would surely provide some relief to the people and communities affected by the nationwide opioid epidemic.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States reported more than 500,000 deaths due to opioid overdoses over the past two decades.
Jury Reluctant Over Purdue's Legal Shield Against Bankruptcy
Purdue's appeal to revive the legal shield, which will protect its owner from lawsuits related to the prescription opioid OxyContin, has been denied by the judges of the U.S. appeals court.
A panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals was appointed to investigate the limits of a bankruptcy judge in protecting non-bankrupt parties like the Sackler family, owners of Purdue.
One of the judges said that the court's earlier rulings were baseless, and another judge argued that the bankruptcy protection for the company is necessary to secure funds for the opioid claims.
The bankruptcy plan will provide $6 billion from Sacklers to settle thousands of lawsuits faced by Purdue, claiming that the company fueled the nationwide opioid crisis. The attorney representing the company explained that if the Sacklers do not involve in the settlement, it will be difficult to get money for the opioid victims or state public health programs.
Even the U.S. Trustee's office that oversees the bankruptcy cases has argued against reviving the legal shield.
According to U.S. data, the country reported around 500,000 overdose deaths in the past two decades. Purdue is blamed for this large number of deaths, as it excessively marketed the addictive painkiller OxyContin resulting in an opioid epidemic.
The Sackler family argues that even though they regret their role over OxyContin in the crisis, their actions were legal and appropriate.
In December, a federal judge rejected Purdue's bankruptcy settlement over opioid claims by ruling that the company cannot drop lawsuits filed against its non-bankrupt owners. The ruling resulted in the company revising the opioid deal by adding another $1 billion to the settlement.
$2.2M Verdict Against 3M Over Earplugs Lawsuit
A U.S. Army veteran has been awarded $2.2 million against 3M in Florida court by a federal jury for the hearing loss due to the company's defective earplugs.
The veteran served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2010 when he used 3M's Combat Arms CAEv2 earplugs, resulting in his hearing loss and tinnitus due to the alleged defective design of the product.
3M has won six bellwether trials over its earplugs, whereas it has faced defeat in nine bellwether trials which accounts for $200 million in settlements for the plaintiffs. The company faces one of the largest mass torts cases ever in the history of the U.S.
The plaintiffs' attorneys claimed that the 3M's defenses, whether in the courts, to investors, or the public, have been unconvincing and without merit.
The spokesperson for the company said that the verdict is a big disappointment as the plaintiffs' attorneys failed to present relevant evidence to the jury. The company continues to defend its earplugs by appealing the losses considering the trials it has won.
The company even explained that as per the Colorado law, which applies to the recent verdict, the penalty of $2.2 million will be reduced to $668,010 plus pre-judgment interest.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the company is guilty of consumer fraud, and so it needs to cover the attorneys' fees along with the interest, which will exceed the payment of $2 million.
3M discontinued the earplugs in 2015 as it had been a standard issue for over a decade in the U.S. military. Currently, 3M faces more than 280,000 pending claims over its military earplugs, from which 42,000 claims are being prepared for a trial, whereas the remaining claims sit on an administrative docket. All the lawsuits are consolidated in multidistrict litigation or MDL case in the U.S. District Court of northern Florida.
Juul Fails To Block Vaping Products Trial
JuuL Labs Inc. has failed to block the first trial from 2,500 personal injury cases against the e-cigarette maker, which accuses the company of marketing vaping products targeting minors.
As per the court documents, a Tennessee woman alleged that her daughter developed an addiction to using the company's vaping products at the age of 12. The company requested the court to dismiss the claims in the lawsuit, but U.S. District Judge William Orrick rejected the company's plea.
The company stated in its defense that the claims are meritless as the teen failed to identify any specific advertisement which encouraged her to use the JuuL products. The court filings of the company even notified that bright colors and young models, which were used to promote the products were just an exaggerated marketing strategy which should not be taken seriously.
In 2020, the legal problems for Juul increased after a 39-state probe was announced into its teen marketing. The company's popularity increased, resulting in domination of the e-cigarette market. The success eventually brought the company into limelight which was noticed by the federal regulators and state attorneys general who were concerned about the impact of the products on teenagers.
JuuL will face six bellwether trials which allege that the company used illegal marketing strategies and targeted minors to boost their sale resulting in nicotine addiction among the youths. The first bellwether trial is scheduled to start on June 16.