Federal Court Retains Jurisdiction over Opioid Manufacturer Complaints

Updated 3 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Federal Court Retains Jurisdiction over Opioid Manufacturer Complaints
Photo Credit: US District Court

Huntington's  complaint against opioid manufacturers will remain in  U.S. District Court, according to an August 3, 2017 order signed by Hon. David Faber. The order cited and attached a July 3 memorandum order in The County Commission of McDowell County v. McKesson Corporation, et al. for denial of remand to state court.

Huntington's action against the three drug manufacturer's had started in Cabell County Circuit Court and the defendants through diversity of citizenship jurisdiction moved the case to federal court.

On July 19 Cardinal Health filed a notice of  potential non-party fault in naming 1,949 businesses as "wholly or partially” at fault for diverting opioids for illegal use. These parties include physicians, pharmacies, Lily's Place, Marshall Health, St. Mary's Medical Center, Hospice of Huntington, Mayor Steve Williams, the police and fire departments, county commissions,  the WV State Police, individuals arrested for drug use, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The defense filing indicated that individuals and agencies would be removed after the city identified those that did NOT break the law. Similarly, the filing indicated that Cardinal can not determine which pharmacies did not violate the law.

"“If and when Plaintiff admits that any pharmacy did not place suspicious orders, Cardinal Health will consider amending this Notice,” the footnote continues. “In addition to the pharmacies within the City listed below, Cardinal Health reserves the right to supplement this Notice with pharmacies outside of the City, if it is revealed through discovery that such pharmacies dispensed opioid medications to residents of the City and Plaintiff alleges that such activity is the basis for damages alleged against Cardinal Health.”

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams told the Herald-Dispatch "the list [is] a tactic of a guilty party" :

"If they can be so disgusting to go after those most prolific in this fight against the opioid crisis, before they continue pointing fingers, they need to be looking at the mirror and see the three fingers pointing back," Williams said.

Cardinal Health has already settled a similar claim filed by the Attorney General of WV.

The list includes  Heritage Center, Huntington Treatment Center, Res Care, Inc.,  Prestera, Cornerstone Hospital Pharmacy, HCA River Park Hospital, Huntington Work Release Center,  Highland Blue Cross, West Virginia Employees Insurance Agency  (PEIA), Huntington City Council, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney, WV Board of Medicine, FBI, and even Tri State Veterinary Hospital. OF NOTE:  Big Bear Pharmacy on 29th Street is listed second; it's out of business. Similarly, Highlawn Pharmacy is no longer in business.

Many of the nearly 2,000 listed did not know they had been included in the filing.

Curiously, according to the case docket, the pharmaceutical companies on July 19, 2017 filed their notice Regarding Potential Nonparty Fault Under W.Va. Code § 55-7-13d. On July 20, 2017 the City of Huntington filed a Motion to Dismiss without prejudice the complaint. However, on July 24, 2017 the City filed to withdraw its motion to dismiss.

PDF's of appropriate orders in this case are available for download through attachments.

A PDF of all those named in the Defendant filing can be downloaded at: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/cardinal-health-notice/pdf_c26339b6-7e3c-...