Rhode Island reaches $107 million settlement with opioid manufacturers Teva and Allergan at trial opening

As outside counsel to The State of Rhode Island, Motley Rice attorneys were by the side of Attorney General Peter Neronha as he finalized a preliminary settlement with opioid manufacturers Allergan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on March 21, 2022. 

The State reached the settlement after a jury was seated and opening remarks were scheduled to begin. It is valued at roughly $107 million and made up of a mix of cash and much needed medicines, including more than a million nasal sprays of Naloxone and more than 60,000 bottles of Suboxone to quickly bring much needed assistance to the State’s opioid epidemic. Of the cash portion of the agreements, 20% will begin to be paid to cities and towns that sign on to the agreement within 60 days. 

Motley Rice lawyers Fidelma Fitzpatrick, Vincent Greene, Kristen Hermiz and Robert McConnell lead the firm’s trial team for the State.

“The State of Rhode Island was fully committed to going to trial against all of the defendants in this case because we believe the evidence is abundantly clear. The State was prepared to prove in Court that the actions of these companies exacerbated the opioid crisis in Rhode Island and the rest of the country far beyond what any one state or local municipality can or should be expected to overcome,” said Motley Rice attorney and outside counsel for the State of Rhode Island, Vincent Greene. 

“We are glad that abatement remedies can rapidly begin flowing into towns and cities throughout Rhode Island. With the agreement provisions, some meds could reach needed parties before the jury would have begun deliberations,” added Motley Rice litigator Fidelma Fitzpatrick. 

With Motley Rice’s guidance and representation, Rhode Island also settled in January with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to resolve claims against those companies. Rhode Island’s agreed upon terms also assured that the State will receive abatement funding in a fraction of the time its previously scheduled trial would have taken. Initial payments from that agreement are expected to reach the State within 30 days.

The State of Rhode Island first filed suit in 2018 against several companies in the opioid supply chain at the heart of widespread litigation. The State alleges defendant opioid manufacturers created a public nuisance, negligence and fraud by engaging in a deceptive marketing campaign that overstated the benefits of opioids and downplayed the risk of addiction to promote the use of opioids to treat chronic, non-cancer pain. Defendant opioid distributors are alleged to have violated state-controlled substance laws by ignoring red flags and failing in their obligation to report suspicious orders that flooded the State with highly addictive opioid drugs and fueled an illicit black market.

Motley Rice’s MDL Leadership

In addition to the State of Rhode Island, Motley Rice represents dozens of governmental entities, including states, cities, towns, counties and townships in ongoing investigations and litigations filed in state courts and in the National Prescription Opiate Multidistrict Litigation that allege deceptive marketing and/or the overdistribution of opioids. Motley Rice’s co-founding member Joe Rice is co-lead counsel for the federal MDL. Attorney Linda Singer also serves as co-chair of the MDL’s Manufacturer/Marketing Committee and Lou Bograd is co-chair of the Law & Briefing Committee.

As co-lead counsel for the MDL, Joe Rice co-led negotiations for a $26 billion settlement that was announced in July with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors. Additionally, Motley Rice attorneys led negotiations for the $260 million settlement that was reached on the eve of trial in 2019 to resolve the MDL’s first track of claims filed by two Ohio jurisdictions, Summit County, a Motley Rice client, and Cuyahoga County. Opioid manufacturers and distributors Teva, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson were defendants in the case.

Read the full complaint filed by the State of Rhode Island.

Learn more about the National Prescription Opiate MDL.