90 Percent of Eligible Local Governments Join $26 Billion Opioid Settlement | Levin Papantonio Rafferty - Personal Injury Law Firm

90 Percent of Eligible Local Governments Join $26 Billion Opioid Settlement

It looks like a $26 billion proposed settlement could move full steam ahead after 90% of 6,000 U.S. cities and counties gave their nod of approval, Reuters reported. The deal would resolve local governments’ lawsuits alleging that top drug distributors Johnson & Johnson, McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc. powered the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Peter Mougey, a partner at Levin Papantonio Rafferty, told Reuters that the local governments across 45 states and territories had responded in overwhelming numbers to the late January deadline for opting into the proposed settlement.

Of the responding states, New Hampshire stood alone in its decision to reject settlement offers from defendants. Despite having settled with distributors, the state still is suing J&J to the tune of billions of dollars.

Mougey expressed his astonishment at this level of participation in the opioid settlement. “It demonstrates the strength and power of this settlement,” the attorney told Reuters.

Governments plan to use the settlement money to fund programs and treatment for an opioid abuse epidemic the defendants allegedly fueled.

Of the possibly $26 billion, distributors have said they will pay $21 billion. Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay as much as $5 billion. Participation of local governments would eat up around $10.7 billion.

Mougey reported that by the date of the opt-in deadline:

  1. 3,010 local governments who had filed lawsuits against distributors agreed to settle with these defendants.
  2. 3,405 governments (10,000+ population) not involved in such lawsuits also agreed to settle with distributors.
  3. 3,038 local governments that are pursuing actions against J&J agreed to the settlement.
  4. 3,324 non-litigating local governments also joined the deal.

It’s now the defendants’ turn to commit. They must decide if they are moving ahead with the deal by February 25, 2022.