Defense Counsel Journal

IADC Amicus Briefs - Volume 88, Number 1

Volume 88, No. 1

April 26, 2021

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The IADC amicus curiae program has been active in recent months. The following brief was filed by the IADC since the last Defense Counsel Journal issue: 

TN Supreme Court Holds District Attorneys General Lack Standing Under DDLA in Opioid Lawsuit (12/17/2020)

On December 17, 2020, pharmaceutical companies gained a rare victory in the defense of opioid litigation. In Effler et al v. Purdue Pharma, L.P. et al, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that seven Tennessee District Attorneys General (“D.A.s”) lacked standing under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act (“DDLA”) to sue pharmaceutical companies who manufactured opioid medications. The initial lawsuit was filed in 2017 against several pharmaceutical companies, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Mallinckrodt, LLC, Purdue Pharma, L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., and The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc. The Complaint alleged that the pharmaceutical company defendants are illegal drug dealers under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act, a statute that is based upon a model act adopted by states across the country. The Court held that the District Attorneys General, who sought to sue on behalf of cities and counties who were not parties to the litigation, lacked standing to sue under a straightforward reading of the statute. The Court also held that the DDLA can apply to pharmaceutical companies based upon allegations that the companies knowingly participated in the illegal drug market, allowing claims by two Baby Doe Plaintiffs (but not the D.A.s) to proceed. The IADC filed an amicus brief in support of the positions of the pharmaceutical company defendants, as did the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the American Tort Reform Association. The Court’s decision not only impacts the Effler case, but also two other cases pending in Tennessee which collective cover jurisdictions in nearly half of the state. As a result, the pharmaceutical companies have moved to dismiss claims by other D.A.s in a case that was set to go to trial in which the D.A. plaintiffs are seeking $2.4 billion in damages. Some of the pharmaceutical company defendants were represented by IADC members. 

To read the opinion, click here.

For information on the IADC's amicus brief program and to view past briefs, please visit the Amicus Briefs page on the IADC website.