CVS, Walgreens and Walmart to Pay $650.5M in National Opioid Epidemic Case

Ohio Federal Court

Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholders Served on the Trial Team Representing Lake and Trumbull Counties in Ohio.

As part of the National Prescription Opiate Multi-District Litigation (Opioid MDL), U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster ordered global pharmacy retailers CVS, Walgreens and Walmart to pay abatement fees of $650.5 million over a 15-year span.

The decision was announced on Wednesday after a landmark jury verdict in November 2021 found the three companies liable for contributing to the opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties. The economic toll of the opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties is estimated at more than $1 billion per county.

“This is a huge win and well-reasoned decision following the November 2021 jury verdict in Cleveland against the chain pharmacies. It offers full support for the large abatement expenditures necessary to begin to heal these communities, as well as establishing joint and several liability among the wrong-doers,” said Shareholder Jayne Conroy, who serves as co-lead of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee that leads the Opioid MDL. “In this milestone victory for the Lake County and Trumbull County communities, and the entire country, in the fight against the opioid epidemic, we want to express our gratitude to everyone who helped us shine a light on how reckless corporate practices led to the ongoing loss of lives and livelihoods in Ohio, and the dedication and money that must be expended for years in the future to deal with the consequences of that bad conduct. We look forward to continuing to help our clients and our communities achieve justice.”

Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Laura Fitzpatrick served on the courtroom trial team in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio. Shareholder Holly Nighbert helped oversee the case’s exhibits. Shareholders Sarah Burns, Justin Presnal, Tom Sheridan, Ellyn Hurd, Jo Anna Pollock, Sandy Smokler and Andrea Bierstein were also instrumental in the case.

In addition, the firm’s legal support staff — including Jill Kraus, Stephanie Wedding, Erin Sternickle and Julie Bond — provided significant support throughout the course of the case.

The liability phase of the trial lasted two months and the jury deliberated for six days. It was the third bellwether trial in the Opioid MDL. The damage phase was a bench trial in May and lasted a little over a week.

The cases are County of Lake v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 1:18-op-45032, County of Trumbull v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 1:18-op-45079, and In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, case number 1:17-md-02804, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.