Supreme Court To Issue Major Opioid Ruling

The federal appeals court is requesting further information from the Supreme Court of West Virginia about the possibility that the distribution of opioids might constitute a public nuisance. This investigation is being conducted at the same time that the appeals court is reviewing a significant case involving three well-known drug distributors. They are accused of their roles in a health catastrophe in a county inside the state.

A Charleston, West Virginia, federal judge ruled in favor of the defense -Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. in July 2022.

They were accused in the case of distributing 81 million pills in Cabell County over eight years, a county that is severely impacted by opioid addiction.

Almost a year after Cabell County and the city of Huntington brought the case, the ruling was reached in a bench trial.

According to the complaint, the distributors ignored the warning indications of addiction and were thus accountable for making the distribution of drugs a public nuisance.

However, U.S. District Judge Faber noted that the Supreme Court of West Virginia has solely addressed acts that damage public property or resources by utilizing public nuisance legislation. He argues that the current legal framework is at odds with the conventional wisdom about nuisance as it would encompass the advertising and sale of opioids.

The West Virginia Supreme Court is being asked by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, to decide whether circumstances brought about by the distribution of a controlled substance can be considered a public nuisance. If these conditions meet the criteria for a public nuisance under West Virginia’s common law, the court wants to know how to prove them. If not, it wants to know what they are.

If the Supreme Court gives a negative answer, the present appeal will be concluded, according to the 4th Circuit.

The catastrophic effects of opioids have prompted some state and municipal governments to initiate legal action. Several countrywide deals with a combined value of more than $50 billion settled most cases. However, those that have gone to trial have not shown a consistent pattern in their results.