Representation of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in Precedent-Setting Opioid Litigation

Bass, Berry & Sims represents Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a global pharmaceutical manufacturer, in numerous cases in courts across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. In Tennessee, several district attorneys (DAs) allege pharmaceutical companies were illegal drug dealers under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA) for failing to prevent the diversion of opioids by third parties acting illegally. The DAs seek the costs of litigation and operating treatment centers across the state with billions at stake. In two cases, the defense moved to dismiss the claims on the bases that: (1) the DDLA did not apply to licensed pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and sell FDA-approved medications to licensed distributors in compliance with the law, and (2) the DAs lacked standing to bring these claims.

The judge in the Staubus case denied the dismissal, while the judge in the Effler case agreed on the first issue and dismissed the entire case in what was the first dismissal of a case against an opioid manufacturer in the country. The appeals court overturned the dismissal; the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed and held the DAs lacked standing to bring the claims. Staubus was set for trial when Mallinckrodt filed bankruptcy as part of a global settlement in October 2020. The case proceeds against the remaining defendants. Jessie Zeigler led our team in defense of these cases across three states.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: MNK) is a primarily generic pharmaceutical manufacturer of opioids.

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