Profit-Driven Lawyers Deter Comprehensive Solutions for Opioid Crisis

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Lawyers who are driven by potential winnings and settlements threaten to frustrate efforts to resolve litigation over the opioid epidemic, lessening the likelihood of achieving a meaningful resolution

This op-ed was originally published by Bloomberg Law.

On Jan. 14, New Mexico became the latest state to join a nationwide settlement with Johnson & Johnson and other opioid makers. The company agreed to pay the state $44 million to resolve claims that it fueled the opioid epidemic through its marketing practices.

Also, states joined together to urge California courts to dismiss complaints filed by local governments, arguing that the municipality complaints undermine the states’ roles in the opioid multi-district litigation (MDL).

The MDL, comprised of more than 1,000 cases, concerns another national crisis which has been backburnered during the Covid-19 pandemic—the country’s opioid epidemic.

Opioid abuse has resulted in enormous human and economic costs, as state attorneys general who have reached settlements aimed at combating the epidemic and alleviating its harms have stated.

However, the master complaints filed in this MDL by hundreds of political subdivisions of states that have already settled with the same defendant as well as major pharmacies threaten to frustrate—not further—efforts to resolve litigation over the opioid epidemic, lessening the likelihood of achieving meaningful resolution.

These follow-on complaints, along with duplicative municipal litigation against all these businesses, risk usurping the states’ traditional authority to act in the interests of their citizens. Allowing the municipality complaints to proceed will harm not just the settling parties but the prospects of resolution for future MDLs—and the administration of justice itself.

Read the full op-ed from Bloomberg Law at

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