Lawyers

Major Law Firms to Receive Millions from $2.13 Billion Opioid Settlement Fund
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A court-appointed panel recommended the distribution of $2.13 billion in legal fees from national opioid settlements. Major law firms will receive substantial sums, with Motley Rice getting the largest share at $396 million. The funds, derived from settlements totaling over $46 billion, are intended to compensate legal efforts benefiting all plaintiffs in the litigation. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ruled that firms have until June 21 to appeal the recommendations.

Allocation of Legal Fees

A court-appointed panel has recommended how to allocate a $2.13 billion pool of legal fees derived from nationwide opioid settlements. This pool is intended to compensate law firms for their work benefiting all plaintiffs involved in the opioid crisis litigation.

Major Beneficiaries

The panel’s recommendations include significant payouts to major law firms:

  
What
Where


  • Motley Rice: This national firm is set to receive the largest share of the funds, amounting to 18.6% or approximately $396 million.
  • Simmons Hanly Conroy: Based in New York, this firm will receive 11.4% of the pool, equating to around $244 million.
  • Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd: This California-based firm is allocated 8.2% of the funds, or $174 million.
  • Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein: Another California firm, it will receive 5.65% of the total, roughly $120 million.

Source of the Funds

The $2.13 billion in legal fees comes from settlements totaling more than $46 billion. These settlements were reached by drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacies to resolve lawsuits filed by local governments and Native American tribes. The lawsuits accused these entities of contributing to the opioid addiction epidemic through negligence and misinformation.

Common Benefit Fund

The legal fees were set aside in a “common benefit fund,” designed to compensate law firms for their efforts in litigation that benefited all plaintiffs involved in the opioid crisis lawsuits.

Judge’s Ruling and Appeal Process

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, overseeing the opioid litigation since 2017, ruled that the firms have until June 21 to appeal the panel’s recommendations before they become final.

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Companies Involved in Settlements

The fees stem from settlements with several major companies, including:

  • Drugmakers: Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
  • Distributors: Cencora, McKesson, and Cardinal Health.
  • Pharmacies: CVS, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Walmart.

Exclusions and Ongoing Legal Issues

The settlements do not include a separate $6 billion agreement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, funded by the Sackler family. The legality of this settlement is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.



Total Opioid Settlements

In total, opioid settlements, including both nationwide deals and individual state agreements, now exceed $50 billion. Despite the substantial settlements, many state and local governments have yet to finalize detailed plans for utilizing the funds to address the opioid crisis.

Impact of the Opioid Crisis

From 1999 to 2023, opioid overdoses resulted in over 800,000 deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits argue that drugmakers downplayed the risks associated with opioids, while distributors and pharmacies failed to prevent their diversion into illegal channels.



 

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