West Virginia reaches preliminary settlement with Walmart, CVS Pharmacy chains ahead of opioid trial
The State of West Virginia, with the support of Motley Rice as outside counsel, reached a combined $147.5 million in preliminary settlements to resolve litigation against opioid pharmacy chains CVS and Walmart. West Virginia previously reached a settlement with Rite Aid in August, bringing the total proposed settlements reached by the State with pharmaceutical defendants to roughly $177 million to date.
The State was scheduled to go to trial against CVS, Walgreens and Walmart in less than a week in Kanawha County Circuit Court under the leadership of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. A trial against Walgreens and an additional pharmacy, Kroger, is set to begin in June 2023.
The defendant pharmacy chains were each accused of ignoring and failing to report red flags that they dispensed illegitimate prescriptions of opioids despite ample data that allowed them to identify suspicious orders and prescriptions. Their acts and failures violated West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and created a public nuisance by fueling illicit black markets, the State alleged.
Fatal overdose rates tripled in the State over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and spiked to a record high in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Motley Rice lawyers David Ackerman, Sarah Aguiñiga, Andrew Arnold, David Burnett, Ethan DuBois, Mike Elsner, Tola Familoni, John Hurst, Anne McGinness Kearse, Mimi Liu, Temitope Leyimu, Christopher Moriarty, Lance Oliver, Michael Quirk, Joe Rice, Ann Ritter, Linda Singer, Elizabeth Smith, Jake Stout, and Cindi Solomon serve as counsel for the State and helped negotiate for the preliminary settlements. The firm also represents West Virginia and the City of Huntington in several cases against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
“This is an important, monumental settlement for the State of West Virginia, as many families and communities have been devastated as a result of this opioid epidemic,” said Linda Singer. “We’re thrilled to know that if the court approves it, this settlement will provide significant help for those affected the most by the opioid crisis in this State.”
Motley Rice’s Opioid Litigation Leadership
Motley Rice represents dozens of governmental entities, including states, cities, towns, counties and townships in ongoing investigations and litigation filed in state courts and in the National Prescription Opiate Multidistrict Litigation. The entities 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.
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 litigates in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; 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 Anne McGinness Kearse (DC, SC, WV) 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.