Hospital Authority of Wayne County v. AmeriSourceBergen Drug Corp, et al.Annotate this Case
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio certified two questions to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding whether a state entity could continue asserting claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors after the State of Georgia entered into a settlement with the pharmaceutical companies, and as part of the settlement, the General Assembly enacted OCGA § 10-13B-1, et seq. (the “Settlement Act”) in 2022, which included a litigation preemption provision that “bar[s] any and all past, present or future claims on behalf of any governmental entity seeking to recover against any business or person that is a released entity under the terms of the relevant settlement.” OCGA § 10-13B-3 (a) (the “preemption provision”). In April 2019, before Georgia entered into the state-wide settlement with the pharmaceutical companies, the Hospital Authority of Wayne County, Georgia (“HAWC”) filed suit against a number of such entities, seeking to recover unreimbursed amounts it claims to have expended in treating opioid-dependent patients. HAWC subsequently chose not to participate in the state-wide settlement and did not individually release any of its claims. At some point, HAWC’s litigation was consolidated, along with over 3,000 other cases, into a federal multidistrict litigation in the District Court. See In re Natl. Prescription Opiate Litigation, (MDL No. 2804). Seven defendants named in HAWC’s complaint filed a motion to dismiss HAWC’s claims against them (the “Motion”), contending that the suit was barred by the preemption provision. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that the Georgia General Assembly's passage of the preemption provision took away any power HAWC otherwise might have had under OCGA § 31-7-75 to pursue claims that the preemption provision and the Settlement Act were unconstitutional, and the answer to the first question certified by the District Court was no. In light of this answer, the Supreme Court did not need to answer the second certified question.