AG Henry on Commonwealth Court Decision in Opioid Settlement Litigation with Allegheny, Philadelphia County District Attorney Offices

January 26, 2024 | Topic: Opioids

HARRISBURG – This morning, the Commonwealth Court issued a decision granting the Office of Attorney General’s application for summary relief in the lawsuits brought by the Philadelphia and Allegheny County District Attorneys seeking to pursue their own claims against national opioid manufacturers. 

The court’s opinion states that “the Attorney General has the authority to supersede” the District Attorneys’ claims, and that the Attorney General has authority to control the litigation as the “chief law officer.” 

Attorney General Michelle Henry offered these comments:

“The Office of Attorney General is pleased with the Court’s decision in this case, holding that the independent lawsuits filed by the Philadelphia and Allegheny County District Attorneys against opioid manufacturers cannot move forward. The Court’s decision also affirms that the District Attorneys are bound to the terms of the multi-billion dollar opioid settlements led by my office and agreed upon by all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny and Philadelphia, as we have consistently maintained. Pennsylvania can receive up to $1.07 billion from those settlements if all counties and other litigating governmental entities, like the District Attorneys, participate. This decision moves Pennsylvania closer to receiving that entire amount.

“It is clear from the Court’s opinion that, as the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth, the Attorney General has superseding authority and is in the best possible position to represent the public interest of the entire Commonwealth while pursuing and resolving these types of broad civil public protection claims. 

“The efforts, experience, and expertise of the attorneys in my office who handled the opioid settlement cannot be overstated. We have always believed that all counties in Pennsylvania working together is the best way to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable while helping communities repair and rebuild from the devastation caused by lethally-addictive opiates.

“During the many months the District Attorneys’ lawsuit has been pending, our office has remained active in getting millions of dollars to Pennsylvania municipalities. The funding will bolster resources for people in recovery, pay for life-saving medications, improve networks of care for families who have lost a loved one, and help remove stigma barriers that often prevent persons in need from seeking help.”

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