A Tennessee Judge Issued An Uncommon Ruling Against An Opioid Firm Before The Civil Trial Even Began. The Ruling Was Over The Firm’s Supposed Role In The Current Opioid Epidemic.
Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension / CC
Published April 8, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
On Tuesday, Sullivan County Circuit Court Chancellor E. G. Moody entered the default judgement, stating that Endo Pharmaceuticals formulated a “coordinated strategy” with its lawyers to withhold information from plaintiffs, to delay court proceedings, and to interfere with the administration of justice.
In the ruling, Moody details a number of lies that came from Endo’s team of lawyers and discussed their withholding of relevant documents.
“It’s very rare, but then again, rarely do you see the kind of behavior and actions taken by counsel and a defendant as outlined in that order,” said District Attorney General Barry Staubus, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
The ruling goes against Endo and one of its subsidiaries. The case will now move to a trial for damages.
“Although this is a harsh sanction, justice demands it under the circumstances,” Moody stated. “Anything less would make a mockery of the attorneys who play by the rules and the legal system.”
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2017. Plaintiffs include three Tennessee district attorneys, along with babies born with an opioid addiction, known in the lawsuit as “Baby Doe.”
Endo is the sole remaining defendant in the case because Mallinckrodt and Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy. The company is being held liable under the Tennessee’s Drug Dealer Liability Act.
Gerard Stranch, managing partner of the firm representing the plaintiffs, was pleased to see the case making progress.
“We look forward to putting our $2.4 billion damage case to a jury and ultimately seeing funds returned directly to these small communities, which have borne the brunt of Endo’s focus on financial gain,” Stranch said.
The company released a statement saying that there was a plan to appeal the ruling, claiming it to be “procedurally, factually, and legally deficient.”
Endo also stated that they had made an attempt to address the judge’s concerns by hiring another law firm, submitting hundreds of thousands of copies of additional records, and offering to cover the cost of extra depositions.
The judge, however, said that Endo submitted nearly 400,000 documents after the discovery period, after stating in February 2020 that nothing had been withheld. According to Moody, many of those documents were very relevant to the case and even went against some of the answers Endo’s witnesses had been giving.
Moody made it clear that withholding such information caused any potential trial to become unfair.
“Plaintiffs should not be forced to choose between going to trial without this highly relevant information – which Endo and its attorneys intentionally hid from Plaintiffs and this Court – or delaying the trial for months or even a year,” Moody said.
Moody also noted that Endo and its lawyers “have not shown any remorse, admitting their wrongdoing or apologized to opposing counsel or the Court for their actions.”
This is not the first time Endo has been accused of dishonesty in this trial. A lower court judge cited them with contempt of court in May 2020 because of similar issues, including making false statements.
Tennessee has sued a number of companies at the state level due to their alleged role in the opioid epidemic. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is also a participant in a multi-state group of attorneys general who are investigating a number of opioid firms in their fight against opioid abuse.