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Opioid Lawsuits

April 13, 2020

Opioid Lawsuits

Case: Jared Effler Et Al. v. Purdue Pharma L.P. Et Al.

Facts: Several District Attorneys and two minor children sued certain drug manufacturers under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act, alleging the redirection of a drug from a proper use to an illicit use. The trial court dismissed the case, holding that the Act does not apply to manufacturers who lawfully produce drugs to sell to doctors who then allegedly over-prescribed to patients.

Intermediate Decision: The intermediate court reversed the dismissal of the case. First, the intermediate court held that the District Attorneys had standing to bring the case: while they are not enumerated as “Persons allowed to bring an action for damages” per TCA § 29-38-106(a), they are allowed to “represent the state or a political subdivision of the state” per § 29-38-116(a). Second, the court rejected the argument that the Act was only intended to address “street dealers” rather than legal participants in a regulated marketplace because that distinction is not made in the statute.

Review Granted: March 26, 2020.

Prediction: Ben thinks the Supreme Court will reverse. First, the omission of District Attorneys from the statute specifying potential plaintiffs clearly precludes their standing to bring a case as parties. Second, while Ben thinks a drug manufacture could be subject to suit (say, by selling controlled substances to someone not authorized to prescribe them), the alleged over-prescription of the drugs by doctors later in the process does not make the drug themselves illegal in the way contemplated by the statute. David agrees in part.  David thinks the District Attorneys have derivative standing, however the statute cannot apply to the drug manufacturer absent collusion in unlawful prescriptions.