In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation, No. 20-3075 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The counties filed suit in the Northern District of Ohio against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. More than 2,700 other opioid cases have been transferred there by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). The first Case Management Order put the Counties’ cases on “Track One,” with a March 2019 trial date, setting a deadline in April 2018 for the Counties to amend their complaints. The Counties then asserted claims against 12 Pharmacies as “distributors” of pharmaceuticals to their own retail pharmacies, expressly declining to bring "dispenser" claims. Distributors ship pharmaceuticals wholesale; dispensers fill prescriptions. The Track One parties engaged in massive discovery.
Rather than ruling on summary judgment motions, the district court granted the Counties’ motion to sever all but one Pharmacy (Walgreens) from Track One. Trial had been rescheduled for October 2019. The 11 Pharmacies settled with the Counties, agreeing to pay $260 million. The district court canceled the trial, then allowed the Counties to amend their complaints to add “dispenser” claims and ordered discovery to proceed anew. The court refused to rule on dismissal motions and ordered the Pharmacies to produce data on every prescription that they had filled for any opioid medication, anywhere in the U.S., dating back to 2006. The Sixth Circuit ordered that the amendments to the complaints be stricken, noting that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply in MDL under 28 U.S.C. 1407 and had been disregarded in several instances.