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PO - Calarco - PR

Posted on: July 12, 2021

Settlement Agreements Reached in Historic Opioid Litigation

Robert Calarco

Hauppauge, N.Y. – This morning the Suffolk County Legislature convened to consider and vote on Certificates of Necessity concerning settlements with several defendants in the County's pending opioid litigation. These Certificates were approved promptly after Legislators met in Executive Session to discuss details related to the litigation.

On February 3, 2015, Legislator Rob Calarco introduced legislation to establish a six-member committee to determine the viability of legal action against drug manufacturers and ascertain the County of Suffolk's costs due to the over-prescription of opioids.

Following this study, Calarco spearheaded the resolution that authorized the special counsel to commence legal action(s) against all responsible parties. The law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC was retained, on a contingency basis, to represent the County of Suffolk in this complex litigation.

Suffolk County was one of the first three counties in the United States to act against opioid manufacturers in 2015. The Counties of Orange and Santa Clara in California and the city of Chicago took similar action in that same period. These settlement dollars will be used in accordance with any requirements outlined in relation to such settlement and, in all likelihood, will be put towards educational programming, treatment, and other related efforts to remedy the impacts of this crisis.

The settlement totals are as follows:

Rite Aid of New York, Inc. ("Rite Aid") has offered to settle the County of Suffolk's Claims against it by paying the sum of One Million, Five Hundred Thousand ($1,500,000) Dollars.

CVS has offered to settle the County of Suffolk's claims against it by paying the sum of Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand ($3,500,000) Dollars, plus the additional amount of Five Hundred Thousand ($500,000) Dollars if certain settlements are reached with other defendants. 

Walmart has offered to settle the County of Suffolk's claims against it by paying the sum of Three Million, Sixty-Two Thousand, Five Hundred ($3,062,500) Dollars. 

Walgreens has offered to settle the County of Suffolk's claims against it by paying the sum of Five Million ($5,000,000) Dollars. 

J & J has offered to settle the County of Suffolk's claims against it by paying the sum of between approximately Eight Million, Four Hundred Thousand ($8,400,000.00) Dollars and Nineteen Million, Eight Hundred Thousand ($19,800,000.00) Dollars over ten (10) years to be used for restitution and abatement and agreeing not to manufacture, sell or promote opioids going forward. 

In September 2019, Purdue Pharma L.P., its general partner Purdue Pharma Inc. and Purdue Pharma L.P.'s wholly-owned direct and indirect subsidiaries ("Purdue") filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy relief under chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Under Purdue's Fifth Amended Joint Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization ("Bankruptcy Plan"), the Sackler, Baker, and Lefcourt defendants have joined Purdue in proposing to settle, among many other claims, the County's claims against them by paying the County the sum of between approximately Ten Million, Four Hundred Thousand ($10,400,000.00) Dollars and Nineteen Million, Six Hundred Thousand ($19,600,000.00) Dollars over nine (9) years to be used for abatement.

Presiding Officer Calarco, who spearheaded the effort to bring forth litigation said, "I want to thank the county attorney's office, the law department, and our dedicated county staff for putting in countless hours to ensure that justice was served." 

He continued, "When we began to experience this crisis, it quickly became apparent that our constituents were being overprescribed opioids, and this negligence is what led to the widespread addiction in our community. Pharmacies had a responsibility to track the distribution of these medications carefully. Their failure to do so furthered the impact of this crisis by allowing individuals to pharmacy shop to obtain more of these powerful drugs. The pharmaceutical companies and their affiliates knew that they were pushing a highly addictive drug that was unsafe for long-term use. Yet, they proceeded anyway, all in the name of turning a profit.

While these settlements cannot repair the damage done or bring back those who we lost to the grips of this epidemic, it has already made a substantial impact. Doctors are now prescribing medication differently, and two of the major manufacturers of these dangerous medications will cease production for good. This is a significant step forward and one I am proud to have put my full support behind from the beginning." 

Several other cases are still pending, but the County and its representation are confident that they will be successful in those instances as well. 

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