A group of plaintiffs made up of Native American and Alaska Native tribes have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with a number of opioid manufacturers for their alleged role in the opioid crisis. This settlement was signed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., now consolidated as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health, Inc.
The plaintiff’s Tribal Leadership Committee (TLC) reached separate settlement amounts with each opioid manufacturer for a combined $590 million in settlement funds. Janssen and Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $150 million over two years to resolve claims filed by tribal nations, while AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health agreed to resolve claims of $439,964,500 over seven years. These settlements will not affect a separate settlement with the Cherokee Nation for more than $75 million.
According to the court’s opinion, “all federally recognized tribes will be eligible to participate in both settlements, whether or not the tribe has already brought an action against the settlement defendants.”
Also according to the advisory, “American Indians have suffered the highest per capita rate of opioid overdoses” and this settlement will allow these groups to build systems to support patients who have become addicted to opioids and prevent future overdoses.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who oversees Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), has appointed Special Counsel David Cohen as trustee for the settlement proceeding, according to Law360. Additionally, Judge Polster appointed Judge Layn Phillips to work with David Cohen to help decide on the allocation of funds. Others named to oversee the trust include former director of Indian Health Services Mary Smith and University of Iowa Law School Dean Kevin Washburn.
While these regulations will allow communities to mitigate the costs associated with the opioid epidemic, companies do not have to admit responsibility for their actions.