Spangenberg Assists in Reaching Settlement in Opioid Epidemic Case

Spangenberg Shibley & Liber attorney Peter H. Weinberger assisted in reaching a $26 billion settlement in a multi-district litigation case in Cleveland Federal Court against three major medical distributors and manufacturers for their role contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Spangenberg Shibley & Liber attorneys Bill Hawal and Dustin B. Herman also assisted on the case, working in coordination with Pete and 20 other law firms to litigate and reach a settlement. Spangenberg Mass tort coordinator Sheila Schebek also devoted significant time to this case.

Major medical distributors McKesson, Amerisource and Cardinal Health, as well as a manufacturer of opioid prescription medication and supplier of raw materials, Johnson and Johnson, have agreed to pay out the settlement to the states and cities and counties over several years for violating the law of public nuisance.

The law of public nuisance covers any situation in which governmental entities seek to hold persons or entities responsible for causing harm to the health and welfare of people within the communities and the communities themselves.

These defendants were required to comply with U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency regulations by setting up systems that would monitor suspicious orders of opioid pills. Those defendants’ systems were required to investigate and not ship orders of unusual size, of unusual quantities, and those deviating from normal patterns. These defendants failed to fulfill those responsibilities.

McKesson, Amerisource and Cardinal Health will pay upwards of $21 billion dollars over the next 18 years, while Johnson and Johnson will pay upwards of $5 billion dollars over nine years and exit the opioid business.

The monies will be allocated state-by-state based on population, opioid-related deaths per capita, opioid-related addictive patients per capita and the number of pills per capita distributed within the particular state. A certain percentage will go to the state, an additional percentage to the cities and counties within the state, and in most states, the balance to state and political subdivision run foundation tasked with earmarking the money for the specific programs whose purposes are to abate the epidemic.

Pete has worked full-time on this case over the last four years as the court-appointed liaison counsel. In this leadership position as the plaintiff liaison, Pete’s role was to help organize the lawyers who are bringing the case forward, acting as the principal spokesperson of the plaintiffs.

This is just the beginning of a number of similar cases. Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings as an outcome of a multi-billion dollar settlement.

Pete is also working on a case for the upcoming trial on September 29th against five retail pharmacy chains over their role as distributors and dispensers of opioid pills.

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