According to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, “Walgreens gave short shrift to its regulatory obligations, and its pharmacies failed to perform due diligence on hundreds of thousands of red flag prescriptions, many of which were written by suspicious prescribers that Walgreens’ own pharmacists warned the company about. The aggregate evidence that Plaintiff presented at trial was not only adequate to establish Walgreens’ culpability—it was devastating.” (Case No. 18-cv-07591-CRB).
Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) Shareholder Peter Mougey was one of the Co-Leads who tried the two-month bench trial culminating in a 112-page Order holding Walgreens accountable. LPR ran the Walgreens litigation in the MDL.
A Triumph of Teamwork
Co-Lead Counsel for the San Francisco opioid trial includes Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy, Richard Heimann of Lieff Cabraser, Aelish Baig of Robbins Geller, David Chiu, City Attorney of San Francisco, and Peter Mougey of Levin Papantonio Rafferty. Every member of this team played a significant a role in Judge Breyer’s ruling, according to Mougey. “It was a massive team effort from the co-lead firms and the PEC,” he said.
The closing arguments Mougey presented at the bench trial painted a vivid picture of Walgreens’ consistent failure to perform adequate due diligence when dispensing hundreds of thousands of suspicious opioid prescriptions. The unaddressed red flags were a “Grand Canyon-size hole” compared to its responsibilities,” Mougey argued. Walgreens was required by federal law to create a system designed to detect red flags as a distributor and a pharmacy but instead its system focused on profits over patient safety as it was required.
A Ruling That Allows San Francisco's Healing to Begin
Breyer’s ruling brings the city, one that was hit especially hard by the opioid crisis, “one step closer to starting the healing process,” Mougey told Washington Post reporters. Judge Breyer concluded “that Walgreens substantially contributed to an opioid epidemic with far-reaching and devesting effects across San Francisco….The effects of the opioid epidemic on San Francisco have been catastrophic. The city has fought hard and continues to do so, but the opioid epidemic, which Walgreens helped fuel, continues to substantially interfere with public rights in San Francisco.
“Walgreens has hidden, covered up, and run from the truth throughout the entirety of this five-year litigation,” Mougey argued. “Walgreens knew its system to detect and stop suspicious orders was nonexistent but continued to ship opioids at an alarming pace to increase profits.”
A second phase of the trial determining the remedy begins on November 7th and will determine the amount Walgreens is obligated to pay the city of San Francisco.
Almost $50 Billion Recovered
The national litigation has recovered almost $50 billion against less than ten defendants. The recovery will be primarily spent on opioid treatment and education prevention in our communities. LPR had multiple leadership positions across the PEC including lead counsel on settling defendant McKesson.