Walmart’s $3.1 Billion Settlement, Along With Those From CVS and Walgreens, Will Fund “Tangible, Positive Change” in Opioid-Struck Communities
The Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) law firm announced that Walmart has agreed to pay $3.1 billion to settle national opioid lawsuits, bringing the total settlement from national retail pharmacy companies (including CVS and Walgreens) to $13.8 billion. The agreements mark a major victory in LPR’s ongoing fight to hold corporations accountable for their roles in the national opioid crisis.
LPR Attorney Peter Mougey, who served as a member of the court-appointed leadership and negotiating team in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation multidistrict litigation (MDL), explained the significance of the pharmacies’ agreements.
“Three of the largest pharmacies in the country chose profits rather than fulfilling their responsibilities under both state and federal law to heed red flag warnings,” Mougey said. “As a result of the efforts of the Plaintiffs Executive Committee, including LPR attorneys, substantial dollars will soon flow back into our communities to address the opioid epidemic at the local level.”
In addition to the just announced Walmart settlement, earlier this month, Walgreen, and CVS each announced an agreement to pay over $5 billion, respectively. LPR attorneys Jeff Gaddy, Page Poerschke, and Laura Dunning worked with Mougey in the years-long effort against Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and the other members of the opioid distribution chain.
“After multiple trials, these pharmacies were forced to come to the realization that they were a significant part of the problem and needed to contribute to the country’s healing process,” Mougey added. “Internal company documents often told the story,” Mougey said, “including an email from a Walgreens executive that admitted that Walgreens’ system ‘made possible the runaway growth…of products like Oxycodone.’”
The settlement agreements aim to resolve thousands of state and local government lawsuits that accuse the pharmacy chains of mishandling opioid painkillers, thus greasing the wheels on the devastating pandemic that ripped through the entire country. On top of the pharmacy settlements, in July 2022, pharmaceutical companies Teva Pharmaceuticals announced its agreement to pay $4.25 billion, and Allergan struck an agreement to pay $2.37 billion to resolve national opioid cases, The New York Times reported.
With today’s announced agreement from Walmart, the total amount of settlements in this phase of opioid litigation has reached more than $20 billion with a total recovery of almost $60 billion. The recovery has been a herculean effort at Levin Papantonio Rafferty and the Plaintiff’s Executive Committee.
What Do Opioid Pharmacy Settlements Mean to the “Person on the Street?”
The proposed settlement puts into gear a complex set of mechanisms for getting funds where they need to be. Given that nearly 650,000 overdose deaths have been attributed to the opioid crisis, many American communities are in desperate need of economic assistance. Communities across the country have directly felt the impact of the country’s opioid crisis and have a keen interest in what a settlement like this means.
“Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart have agreed to pay almost $15 billion,” Mougey said. “The settlement proceeds will go directly to communities across the country earmarked to curb the epidemic and educate children that pills are as dangerous as heroin.”
Walmart announced the settlement agreement with the assurance that communities will receive settlement payments from the discount giant faster (almost immediately) than those from other pharmacies. Under the terms of the other major pharmacy’s proposed agreements, announced earlier this month, CVS would pay $5 billion over 10 years and Walgreens would pay $5.7 billion over 15 years.
Leadership Encourages States, Local Governments, and Tribes to Participate
At this point, it is up to individual states, local governments, and tribes to decide whether they will choose to participate in the settlement. Mougey and other members of the court-appointed leadership and negotiating team in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL are strongly encouraging these entities to move forward with the agreements.
The following is a statement issued in early November on behalf of the leadership and negotiating team (Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy; Paul T. Farrell Jr. of Farrell & Fuller Law LLC; Joe Rice of Motley Rice LLC; Russell Budd of Baron & Budd, P.C.; Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; Paul Geller of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; Peter Mougey of Levin Papantonio Rafferty; Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP; Hunter Shkolnik of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC; and Steven Skikos of Skikos, Crawford, Skikos & Joseph LLP):
“These landmark agreements-in-principle reached with CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart are an important step in our efforts to hold pharmacy defendants accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic that continues to devastate individual lives, as well as entire cities and states.
“Once effectuated, these agreements will be the first resolutions reached with pharmacy chains and will equip communities across the country with the much-needed tools to fight back against this epidemic and bring about tangible, positive change,” Mougey said. “In addition to payments totaling billions of dollars, these companies have committed to making significant improvements to their dispensing practices to help reduce addiction moving forward.”
“Along with the attorney general working groups with whom we continue to tackle this crisis, we encourage all states, subdivisions, and Native American Tribes to join us once this agreement and allocation process is finalized to expedite the process of providing these life-saving resources where they are needed most.
“While our efforts thus far have obtained approximately $25 billion for communities nationwide, our work is far from finished. Alongside community leaders, first responders, and others on the front lines of this crisis, we will continue to work to hold all those responsible for this epidemic fully accountable and obtain some measure of justice for its catastrophic effects.”
About Peter Mougey
Mougey has been heavily involved in litigation surrounding the nation’s opioid crisis. He was selected to serve as Co-Lead of the opioid crisis Distributor and Pharmacy cases and serves on the Plaintiff’s Executive Committee in litigation that the Washington Post called “the largest and most complex case in the history of jurisprudence.” Mougey was recently credited as one of the key negotiators in the $26 billion settlement with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the “Big Three” drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.
About Levin Papantonio Rafferty
The Levin Papantonio Rafferty law firm has been representing injured people across the globe since 1955. The firm has gained national recognition as one of the most successful personal injury firms in the world and has been featured on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, as well as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, and National Law Journal.
Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorneys handle lawsuits throughout the country involving prescription drugs, medical devices, medical malpractice, car accidents, and business litigation. Levin Papantonio Rafferty has earned more than $30 billion in jury verdicts and settlements, litigating against some of the largest corporations in the world.
For questions about the firm’s legal practice, call (800) 277-1193.