DOJ seeks permission to discuss settlement in opioid case

DOJ seeks permission to discuss settlement in opioid case

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Monday filed a motion [text, PDF] seeking permission to engage in settlement negotiations with defendants in the multi-district opioid case.

The DOJ filed the motion setting forth its role in the case as a “friend of the court,” which will allow the government to more efficiently assist the parties and the court in the lawsuit [docket]. In the same motion, the DOJ asked the court for permission to facilitate settlement discussions to ensure the government’s monetary interests are properly represented and protected in the case.

The government set forth several concerns supporting its position in the lawsuit, including its monetary interest stemming from medical care which aided the opioid crisis, and upholding federal law. The motion also emphasized the government’s role in the litigation:

Because of the United States’ unique national perspective, the government’s participation in settlement discussions could help ensure that remedial action in the multi-district litigation is structured to serve the public interest. In particular, the United States has expertise and information that can assist the parties in carefully crafting non-monetary remedies that will effectively combat the opioid crisis on a nationwide basis, all in accordance with applicable law.

The DOJ shared [press release] Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ remarks about the motion, stating: “We have already filed a statement of interest in this case, arguing that the taxpayer has paid a heavy price because of dishonest opioid marketing practices, and deserves to be compensated. Now we are formally seeking to provide the federal government’s expertise and legal counsel to the court on a potential settlement.”

The case is a multi-district litigation in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio [official website]. The court in February granted [text, PDF] the parties permission to establish teams of lawyers to discuss settlement negotiations. The DOJ will join these settlement negotiations if the court grants the government’s motion.