November 24, 2021

Walmart, CVS Appeal of Opioid Loss Has Good Chance, Experts Say - Bloomberg Law

While a Cleveland jury concluded Walmart Inc., CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. exacerbated Ohio’s opioid epidemic with lax oversight of prescription painkillers, the verdict may not survive on appeal, according to legal experts.

The companies, who vowed to appeal, may not have to work hard to make their case, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the litigation. Overturning the verdict could be justified by the decision of the judge overseeing the trial to not grant a mistrial, even after a juror admitted to doing Internet research about claims against the pharmacy operators, Tobias said. Jurors are only permitted to consider evidence and arguments presented in court.

The two Ohio counties that won in court on Tuesday “are definitely at risk here for this verdict to be set aside” by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal in Cincinnati, Tobias said. “There are plenty of grounds available to the appeals court judges to order a retrial.”

Jurors concluded after a trial that the companies endangered “public health and safety” through slipshod oversight of prescriptions for the highly-addictive drugs. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who presided at the trial, will decide later whether the municipalities deserve $2.4 billion in compensation to replenish drug treatment, social services and policing budgets...

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