Landmark opioid litigation trial results in a historic decision in favor of Suffolk County, Nassau County, and the state of New York
Court to rule on defendants’ responsibility for providing opioid relief resources for New York communities
Central Islip, New York — Today, in the landmark New York state opioid trial, the jury reached a historic verdict finding the defendants – opioid manufacturer Teva and distributor Anda – liable for fueling the opioid epidemic in Suffolk County, Nassau County, and New York State.
The jury found defendants responsible for creating and perpetuating the opioid epidemic by unleashing a flood of opioids on New York communities. This was the first case to be heard in front of a state jury and the ruling announced today is the culmination of several years of litigation and preparation by Suffolk County, Nassau County, and New York state. Co-lead counsels for the case include Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy and Napoli Shkolnik PLLC Partner Hunter Shkolnik.
“Today’s verdict represents a massive victory for Long Island, New York State and the entire nation as we once again have ensured that the companies most responsible for creating the opioid crisis are being held accountable for their actions,” said lead counsels for Suffolk County and Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy for Suffolk and Napoli Shkolnik PLLC Partner Hunter Shkolnik for Nassau.
Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholders Ellyn Hurd, Justin Presnal and Holly Nighbert served on the courtroom trial team during the seven-month trial. Shareholders Sarah Burns, Thomas I. Sheridan, III, Jo Anna Pollock, Laura S. Fitzpatrick, Sanford Smokler and Andrea Bierstein were also critical members of the team from the very beginning of the litigation. Jill Kraus, Stephanie Wedding, Patrick Sheridan, Erin Sternickle and Julie Bond also worked tirelessly to support the team.
The court will now move onto the damages phase to determine the extent of the liability. The funds will support opioid abatement strategies like community outreach and education, treatment programs and provider education in an effort to hold opioid makers accountable and pursue long-term reforms in corporate governance to prevent further harm to communities.
“Ultimately, this case was about exposing how the entire opioid chain played a role in creating and perpetuating this crisis. For decades these companies flooded Long Island with highly addictive pills and failed to take action as required by law when issues arose. Instead, these companies were content to sit back and continue to collect record profits while the communities in Suffolk and Nassau counties were left to pick up the pieces,” Conroy and Shkolnik said. “Our work continues, as we now move onto the damages phase, where we will continue to fight to make sure Long Island and New York State get the resources they need to fund the abatement, treatment and recovery programs necessary to fully address the opioid crisis. We would like to congratulate and thank both county legislatures, County Executives Laura Curran and Steve Bellone, and both the Nassau and Suffolk County Attorney’s Offices for their support throughout this entire litigation.
“We would also like to thank Judge Garguilo, the Special Masters, Stephanie Galteri, and Sandra Liccardi for their patience and guidance. What Judge Garguilo and his staff were able to do is monumental and they provided both sides with a fair trial. Judge Garguilo kept this trial on the tracks and that led to many national and statewide settlements that brought resolution to both parties.”
This verdict follows previously announced settlements with Allergan, Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., CVS Health Corp., Endo, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson Corporation, Par, Rite Aid Corp, and Walmart Inc., and totaling more than $1.6 billion in recovered funds for all of New York State.
In August 2016, Suffolk County filed one of the first county lawsuits in the country to hold opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies accountable for their role in creating and perpetuating the opioid epidemic. The case was consolidated in 2017 with Nassau and other New York counties’ similar lawsuits. The state of New York joined the proceedings in 2018. The proceedings mark the first opioid case to proceed with a jury trial in state and federal court. The New York State-Court case is independent from the federal opioid litigation proceeding, National Prescription Opiate Litigation.
The case is In Re: Opioid Litigation, case number 400000/2017; County of Suffolk v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400001/2017; County of Nassau v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400008/2017; and State of New York v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400016/2018, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Suffolk