Here we are talking about the Award of $650 Million to Trumbull Lake Counties for Fighting Opioid Epidemic. Three large pharmacy chain owners are contesting a federal court ruling requiring them to pay millions of dollars to Ohio’s Trumbull and Lake counties for allegedly fueling the country’s opioid epidemic.
Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS lawyers submitted a brief to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the judgment against their clients to be overturned or for a new trial to be mandated.
The two counties who sued the pharmacies over the manner they distributed painkillers claim that they caused the opioid crisis and created a public nuisance in their communities. As a result, the pharmacies are appealing a ruling that they must pay $650 million over fifteen years to the two counties.
The counties asserted that pharmacies in Trumbull County dispersed 68 million doses of opioids between 2000 and 2014. Attorneys claim that with a population of 209,000, each inhabitant took the equivalent of 320 tablets during that time.
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Attorneys for the pharmacies contend in their brief that the court erred in awarding damages under the Ohio Public Liability Act, saying that “the Counties’ claims never should have seen the inside of a courtroom.”
The pharmacies contend that federal law does not compel pharmacists to set up mechanisms to anticipate and prevent the diversion of prescriptions for opioids by third parties, and that nuisance law should not have been applicable because they involve illegal or purposeful behavior.
Attorneys argue in the brief that “the pharmacies were thus held accountable for breaking a federal rule that does not exist.” The pharmacies also contend that there was “egregious juror misconduct,” alleging that the judge should have declared a mistrial when she discovered that one of the jurors had printed posters about the testimony of one of the pharmacies’ witnesses and distributed them to all the other jurors.
The court questioned the remaining jurors if they would be able to reach an objective conclusion before allowing them to continue, even though the juror who conducted the study was discharged.
The pharmacies argue that prescribing physicians and other pharmacies who were not listed as defendants are not being held accountable for paying the judgment and that this unfairly punishes them for starting the opioid epidemic.
The brief claims that if the award made to Trumbull and Lake Counties were expanded to Ohio’s other 86 counties, the judgment would grow to more than $17 billion and that “the pharmacies thus must pay more than a half-billion dollars to remediate harms caused by others and far removed from their alleged misconduct.” If that award were to be made nationwide, according to the pharmacy’s counsel, it would total $496 billion.
The pharmacies contend in their appeal that the counties failed to establish that the pharmacies had broken the federal Controlled Substances Act or any other relevant legal regulation. According to criminal defense lawyer Matt Mangino, challenging a verdict is a difficult process.
It might be challenging to have a decision overturned on appeal, according to Mangino. He declared, “Either the counties will be entitled to this money, or there will be a resolution between the two sides. A Trumbull County organization that assists those impacted by the opioid crisis is not seeking a solution.
The Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board’s executive director, April Caraway, stated that the organization needs financing for long-term recovery, long-term treatment programs, as well as support for women and children.
It’s going to cost a lot of money, she continued, but families must be reunited and able to recuperate. As of Monday, the appellate brief had received no responses from the attorneys representing Trumbull or Lake Counties.
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