Opioid Manufacturer Johnson & Johnson Agrees to $230 million Settlement Just Days Before Start of New York State Prescription Opiates Litigation

Pills spilling out of open pill bottles

Co-lead counsels, including Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy, worked to secure groundbreaking deal to deliver resources to community partners

Central Islip, New York – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest mass torts firms and a leader in opioid litigation, is pleased to announce a $230 Million settlement with Johnson & Johnson as part of the ongoing consolidated opiate litigation in New York State. The settlement was reached days before the start of the historic trial and was recently approved by the general legislatures of Suffolk and Nassau counties. It includes a pledge from the pharmaceutical manufacturer to completely exit the opioid business.

Simmons Hanly Conroy is currently representing Suffolk County in the ongoing trial, which is in its ninth week.

Jayne Conroy
Jayne Conroy, Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder

“We are once again pleased to announce another major settlement with one of the manufactures who have played such a major role in creating the opioid crisis here in New York State and across the country,” said Jayne Conroy, lead counsel for Suffolk County and co-lead counsel in the national prescription opioid MDL. “Settlements at these levels help deliver resources to communities in an expeditious manner. This settlement will help directly fund addiction prevention, education and treatment programs that are so critical to the recovery of our families and communities. Bringing these companies to the table through the litigation process is crucial to holding them accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. We remain focused on the landmark trial that continues in New York State as we continue to show the public just how serious of a crisis the defendants have created.”

In August 2016, Suffolk County filed one of the first county lawsuits in the country to hold opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies accountable for their role in creating and perpetuating the opioid epidemic. The case was consolidated in 2017 with Nassau and other New York counties’ similar lawsuits. The state of New York joined the proceedings in 2018. The proceedings mark the first opioid case to proceed with a jury trial in state and federal court.

“For the first time, we are given the opportunity to tell our story to the jury about what has happened over the last two decades with respect to the promotion, marketing, and the distribution of opioids that has created this massive flood throughout all our communities in the country,” Conroy said. “We are starting here because the impact of the opioid crisis has been terrible for Suffolk County, Nassau County and the State of New York.”

The entire opioid supply chain is facing litigation in cases across the country. Among the allegations asserted by states and communities are that prescription opioid manufacturers deceptively marketed their products and misled the public about their highly addictive properties and failed to monitor diversion; opioid distributors failed to properly monitor orders of those drugs; and pharmacies saw but failed to act on overprescribing and over-ordering. The Defendants’ alleged actions created an ongoing public nuisance, which continues to endanger American lives, safety, and health.

The New York State-Court case is independent from the federal opioid litigation proceeding, National Prescription Opiate Litigation (NPOL), formed in December 2017, in which federal opioid cases brought by over 2,800 American cities, towns, counties and more are consolidated before Hon. Dan Polster of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Trials in the NPOL are organized into case tracks or “bellwethers” that serve as test cases to help reach resolutions for various claim, plaintiff, and defendant types. There are currently several case tracks moving toward trial.

The New York State case is continuing to hear from plaintiff witnesses and is expected to take several months. During this time, the jury will hear from dozens of witnesses including the county medical examiner, addiction experts and more. Additional defendants, distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, have been severed from this case following a settlement with the State of New York. Following this settlement, the defendants who remain active in the litigation are manufacturers Allergan, Teva and Endo and distributor Anda.

The case is In Re: Opioid Litigation, case number 400000/2017; County of Suffolk v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400001/2017; County of Nassau v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400008/2017; and State of New York v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400016/2018, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Suffolk.