Washington state secures more than $500 million in settlement with nation's "Big Three" opioid distributors

The State of Washington, represented by outside trial counsel Motley Rice LLC, reached a preliminary settlement worth more than $500 million on May 3, 2022, roughly five months into what was one of the first state cases to go to trial against AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson (known collectively as the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors). The settlement occurred just prior to closing arguments in the trial. If approved, the settlement will provide needed funding to lessen the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on the State and its residents. 

The combined settlement includes roughly 6% in attorneys’ fees, with $476 million going directly toward resources the State needs to address the opioid epidemic, including funding services for addiction treatment, housing, education, childcare and addressing the needs of pregnant women.  The agreement includes $46 million more in abatement funds than the State estimates it would have received had it participated in the national settlement reached in July 2021 with the “Big Three” distributors instead of moving forward with trial. Funds from the settlement will be paid over the course of 17 years. 

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott oversaw the bench trial, which began Nov. 15, 2021. Motley Rice lawyers David Ackerman, Andrew Arnold, Elizabeth Camputaro, Moniqúe Alycia Christenson, Natalie Deyneka, Rebecca Fonseca, Jennifer Guy, Annie Kouba, James Ledlie, Donald Migliori, Christopher Moriarty, Michael PendellElizabeth Smith, Linda Singer, and Michael Quirk supported Washington’s Attorney General’s Office during the trial.

“While we still believe the devastation and loss of life associated with this crisis in the State of Washington can be traced back to the funneling of excessive amounts of opioid drugs into the State, we’re grateful that we were able to reach an agreement with the defendant distributors to bring relief to the people of Washington and expedite their healing from this crisis,” stated Motley Rice attorney, Donald Migliori.

“We are grateful to Attorney General Ferguson for allowing us the chance to work alongside the extremely talented and dedicated lawyers at the Attorney General’s Office,” said Motley Rice attorney, Linda Singer. “Because of their hard work and skill and their willingness to press this case through trial, the people of Washington will have much-needed resources to help address this epidemic.”

The State of Washington first filed suit against the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors in 2019, alleging violations of the State’s Consumer Protection Act and public nuisance. The State consumed 1.8% of the world’s opioids in 2016, the complaint alleged, despite only representing 0.1% of the world’s population. The State alleged the defendant opioid distributors ignored this and other red flags and failed in their obligation to report suspicious orders that flooded the State with highly addictive opioid drugs. The overflow of opioids fueled an illicit black market at a detriment to the people of Washington, the State also alleged.

Additional Opioid Litigation

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.

In addition to the State of Washington, Motley Rice is lead trial counsel for the state of West Virginia, which began a bench trial against manufacturers Teva and Endo on April 4, 2022. The firm also supports West Virginia in a bench trial that began May 3, 2021 before U.S. District Judge David A. Faber, against the “Big Three” distributors. A verdict in the case is currently pending. Additionally, Motley Rice attorneys led negotiations for the $107 million settlement reached in March 2022 with opioid manufacturers, Teva and Allergan, for the State of Rhode Island. 
As co-lead counsel for the MDL, Joe Rice co-led negotiations for the $26 billion settlement finalized in February 2022 with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors. The settlement did not resolve claims filed by the State of Washington, but it did secure funding that is essential to help curb the crisis in the majority of states and the more than 3,300 communities that have filed in the MDL.

Read the full complaint filed by the State of Washington

Learn more about the National Prescription Opiate MDL

About Motley Rice 

Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. The firm continues to handle complex litigation in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; other medical devices; human rights; aviation disasters; and wrongful death.

Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; and West Virginia. For more information, contact Motley Rice attorney Donald A. Migliori (MA, MN, NY, RI, SC) at 1.800.768.4026 or visit www.motleyrice.com. Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky is the attorney responsible for New Jersey practice. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.