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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Suchy

Current Status of Opiate Litigation: State and Local Government Settlements Total Over $50 billion



IN RE: NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION OPIATE LITIGATION


It is important to note that current opioid litigation settlement funds stem from public litigation and MCAG specializes in filing claims into class action settlements that arise from private litigation. As the states conclude their cases against all defendants, the litigation will turn its focus to private plaintiffs, including hospitals and employee health plans, known as third-party payors.


Recently, in March 2023, Judge Polster who is overseeing the multi-district litigation disclosed that hospital plaintiffs are “actively pursuing mediation” of their cases against opioid defendants, while third-party payors will select cases to move forward in bellwether trials to test their claims against defendants. MCAG will continue to monitor this ongoing litigation and provide updates as they become available.



No amount of money, no number of sanctions, will be able to right these wrongs. But this settlement puts in place controls that will go a long way to make sure that this never happens again.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

(re: $26B Settlement)



2022 was a blockbuster year for federal, state, and local governments in their quest to hold opioid supply chain companies liable for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, which is still affecting communities across the country. Several multibillion-dollar settlements have been consented with key opioid supply companies, including top manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, with over $50 billion created in payments.


States continue to receive lump sums of money that stem from these individual and global settlements, which each state enacting legislature to coordinate and oversee the disbursement of these funds. While these settlements all call for similar allocation and usage of funds-abatement and remediation-each State has its own unique spending plan. For example, Rhode Island is putting $4 million towards mental health programs across its schools and communities, while Wisconsin is putting $10 million towards renovating and building treatment centers. The requirements of these settlements, including their mandatory default allocations and reporting, are aimed at preventing misspending of funds reminiscent of the Tobacco Settlements.


Now that most of the largest opioid supply chain companies have created settlements for states and local governments, the National Prescription Opiate Litigation has moved its focus toward other defendants, such as smaller regional pharmacies, including Meijer and Kroger.


MCAG continues to monitor this litigation for movement on all tracks. Please visit this site or contact MCAG for further updates or more information.


 

The following takes a more detailed look into how the $50B State Opioid Settlement funds will be utilized.

Who receives and controls a states' opioid settlement funds?

Government entities, including states and subdivisions.

How and where are the funds funneled?

State legislatures utilize state-subdivision agreements and allocation statutes to manage the funds. Some states have set up statutory trusts, including those that benefit “Special Districts,” such as “Health,” “Hospital,” and “Education” Districts, to allocate funds.

What are “Special Districts”?

Non-Private Hospitals and Schools are included in ‘subdivisions’ via Hospital Districts, Health Districts, and Education Districts, categories of Special Districts recognized by the US Census Bureau:

  • Special Districts: local governments legally separate from counties and cities. They deliver specific public services allowed by state law and supported by residents within defined boundaries.

  • Health District: public entities that provide community-based health care services to residents throughout the state.

  • Hospital District: a district organized for the purpose of supporting one or more of the following types of institutions: a hospital, an intermediate health care facility, a nursing home, or a clinic.

  • Education District: a unit for administration of a public school system often comprising several towns within a state.

Does MCAG have any qualifying clients that can participate to receive funding, and if so, how should they proceed?

If MCAG has any clients that are government entities, they may be able to receive remediation funding. Currently, our recommendation would be to work with their State Attorney General to seek additional information.


There's not enough money in the world, frankly, to address the pain and the suffering, the tragedy of the families that all of us know in our states. But this is a good amount of money. It is a strong amount of money to try to help where help is so much needed. And it does provide some justice to families.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

(re: $26B Settlement)




Need more information? Call MCAG at 1-800-355-0466 to learn more or CLICK HERE to complete our contact form and an MCAG representative will respond shortly.


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