Joe Rice appointed to leadership role for opioid claims in McKinsey MDL

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer appointed Motley Rice co-founder Joe Rice as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for multidistrict litigation filed in the Northern District of California against global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., over its alleged role in creating the opioid crisis. 

Through his role in the case, In re McKinsey & Co., Inc. National Prescription Opiate Consultant Litigation, Joe will help oversee dozens of claims filed by communities across the country alleging the consulting firm helped OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma boost sales through unethical means, including misleading doctors, regulators and the general public about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. McKinsey previously agreed to pay a nearly $600 million settlement in February 2021 to resolve similar claims filed by 49 states. 

“The evidence in this case overwhelmingly supports our belief that McKinsey played a major role in accelerating this crisis by working with Purdue,” said Joe Rice, attorney for the plaintiffs. “We intend to prove McKinsey crafted its business model around lies and manipulation, misleading the public and recklessly disregarding regulations all for the sake of its own and Purdue’s bottom line. We believe McKinsey must answer for its actions.”

In addition to this leadership appointment, Joe is co-lead counsel and a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the National Prescription Opiate Multidistrict Litigation coordinated in the Northern District of Ohio for more than 3,000 litigating communities. Also holding leadership positions in that MDL are Motley Rice attorneys Linda Singer, co-chair of the Manufacturer/Marketing Committee, and Lou Bograd, co-chair of the Law & Briefing Committee. Recently, Joe led negotiations for a proposed $26 billion settlement reached in July 2021 with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson that, if approved, would resolve the majority of claims filed against the companies through the MDL. He also 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 subdivisions, Summit County, a Motley Rice client, and Cuyahoga County against Teva, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson. 

Joe also holds a leadership position on the Coordinating Committee as Co-Lead Counsel in the Pennsylvania Coordinated Cases in County of Delaware v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al.

Joe’s commitment to litigation aimed at furthering public health initiatives has spanned more than 30 years. In the 1990s, Joe worked closely with Motley Rice’s late co-founder Ron Motley representing dozens of state Attorneys General and other public entities in litigation against Big Tobacco. The $246 billion Master Settlement Agreement that Joe helped negotiate remains the largest civil settlement in U.S. history.

Joe also served on the PSC for the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” litigation, helping lead negotiations that resulted in a $15 billion settlement over 2.0-liter vehicles, the largest auto-related consumer class action settlement in U.S. history. He also led negotiations for both settlements reached with BP to resolve litigation over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of which was the largest civil class action settlement in U.S. history. 

Read the order announcing leadership in the McKinsey MDL.