In the News: Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy Delivers Closing Arguments in New York State Opioid Trial

Shareholder Jayne Conroy in the New York opioid trial courtroom set up in Touro College’s law school auditorium earlier this summer. The trial proceedings have since returned to Suffolk County State Supreme Court. (ALM Media/Used with permission)


As the New York opioid trial marches toward its conclusion after nearly six months of testimony, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo delayed the start of jury deliberations after remaining defendants objected to closing arguments made by plaintiff attorneys representing New York State and its two-hardest hit communities, Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

Originally scheduled to receive deliberation instructions on Monday Dec. 13, the jury was instead sent home early on Monday, and deliberation instructions were given later on Tuesday morning, further drawing out an already long and protracted trial.

The jury’s deliberation comes after defendant attorneys filed for a mistrial on Sunday evening. Recent objections from remaining defendants (and the request for a mistrial) are seen by many as nothing more than a delay tactic — another attempt to draw the trial out and avoid accountability in the country’s opioid crisis, which claimed the lives of more than 840,000 Americans across the span of two decades.

In her closing argument, Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy, who is representing Suffolk County, told the jury to remember back to her opening statements made earlier this year, when she told the jury to listen for the ways in which the defendants would seek to avoid any and all blame.

“You will not hear these defendants accept any blame for this epidemic. You will hear them blame everyone else,” Conroy said back in June, netting national headlines. “The FDA, DEA, our police, our communities, our county officials, our state officials, doctors, they’re going to point the finger at everyone except themselves.”

Pointing the finger at anyone except for themselves, Conroy said during her closing argument, is what the defendants did right up to the conclusion of the trial.

Jayne Conroy, Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder

“I told you this is a simple case,” Conroy said on Monday. “You don’t need to overcomplicate things. You have heard the evidence for over six months — and you know why this is a simple case? Three reasons. One: Don’t violate the law. Two: Don’t lie about your product. Three: And don’t harm our communities for profit. That’s how simple this case is and we have given you the evidence to show you how simple this case is.”

When Conroy finished her argument, she introduced the jury to a verdict form, which gives jurors the option of apportioning certain percentages of responsibility among both remaining defendants and the defendants that have already settled and been severed from the case. She recommended that Teva and its subsidiaries receive 50 percent of liability and Anda, Inc., the other 50 percent.

After six long months, the once-sprawling case has seen a number of key results in favor of plaintiffs, including:

  • Former opioid manufacturer Allergan agreed to a $200 million settlement with New York State and Suffolk and Nassau Counties
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiaries agreed to a settlement with New York State, and Suffolk and Nassau Counties, totaling $50 million
  • Johnson & Johnson settled with the state of New York for $230 million, and as part of their agreement, the company agreed to stop making opioids
  • The three largest U.S. drug distributors — McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation — settled claims with New York State for a combined $1.18 billion

As it stands, the New York State opioid case — the first juried opioid trial in the United States — is the longest in the history of the New York State Supreme Court.

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