Millions of Americans are addicted to prescription opioids, and tens of thousands die annually from opioid overdoses. Indeed, the number of people who take prescription opioids for non-medical purposes has far exceeded the number who use cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens combined.
Gilbert LLP is a leader in the legal fight to abate the opioid epidemic throughout the nation and to establish effective, long-lasting solutions. We approach this challenge with the same insight, innovation, and commitment we bring to every problem we confront—devising and implementing strategic, enterprising paths to the best outcomes possible.
The firm first attacked the epidemic by representing multiple states attorneys general and sovereign Indian tribes to investigate and litigate claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and chain retailers, seeking damages and other relief for their roles in causing and fueling the opioid crisis. Gilbert brings to these cases and other pending opioid-related litigation its considerable experience and successful track record negotiating historic, complex multiparty settlements in mass-tort and other matters.
A short time later, we began to apply our insurance expertise to determine the extent to which insurance may be available to fund potential solutions to the opioid epidemic. For example, in January 2021, following significant analysis of the insurance available to Purdue Pharma L.P., Gilbert LLP and other firms filed the largest insurance coverage action filed to date concerning opioids (currently pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York).
The Purdue bankruptcy also is an example of another area in which Gilbert is working to battle the opioid crisis: as it has in numerous prior mass tort contexts, Gilbert played a central role in negotiating the terms of the settlement among all opioid creditors, the Purdue debtors, and the Sackler family. The settlement will result in an unprecedented multi-billion-dollar opioid-abatement trust dedicated solely to addressing the national opioid crisis at state and local levels. Gilbert helped devise the package that guarantees that funds will not be diverted to other programs, ensuring that billions are provided for desperately needed prevention, treatment, counseling, and other initiatives.
On September 1, 2021, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed the bankruptcy settlement in In Re: Purdue Pharma L.P. Among other things, confirmation results in the transfer of insurance rights to a claimant trust and the application of insurance proceeds to compensate opioid claimants and abate the opioid crisis. Gilbert serves a similar role in negotiations between multiple other members of the opioid industry and their claimants, including in connection with state and federal proceedings, pre-bankruptcy negotiations, and pending and post-bankruptcy contexts.
Insurance Recovery in Opioids
Gilbert’s insurance work also extends to the opioids arena. In our representation of governmental plaintiffs in multiple state, federal, and bankruptcy court proceedings, we have extensively analyzed hundreds of insurance policies to determine the extent to which they potentially apply to opioid claims, and may ultimately provide funds to compensate plaintiffs and abate the opioid crisis.
Evaluating the interaction of hundreds of insurance policies, multiple overlapping insurance programs, and the myriad underlying opioid claims has required a sophisticated understanding of insurance recovery in different contexts.
For example, as mass tort, deal, and insurance counsel in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings, Gilbert secured joint derivative standing with the Debtors, and thus expedited the claimants’ direct role in insurance recovery. Gilbert is successfully navigating this complex legal landscape, breaking new ground at the quickly-evolving intersection of mass tort bankruptcy and insurance coverage.
Bankruptcies in the Opioids Industry
Gilbert’s opioid-related bankruptcy work is extensive, involving multiple matters and a wide range of legal strategies and techniques. As counsel for creditors, Gilbert attorneys seek to maximize the resources available and dedicated to combating America’s ongoing opioids crisis, including through lengthy and complex negotiations with Debtors and other creditor groups. The firm also is involved in pre-bankruptcy-related negotiations with the same goal: securing resources to help abate the opioid crisis that is ravaging our country.
Most recently, as mass tort, deal, and insurance counsel to the Ad Hoc Committee of Governmental and Other Contingent Litigation Claimants in In Re: Purdue Pharma L.P., Gilbert played a central role in negotiating the terms of the confirmed bankruptcy settlement that involved all opioid creditors, the Purdue debtors, and the Sackler family, and will lead to more than $10 billion being received by claimants. Currently, Gilbert plays a similar role as counsel for the Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Entities Holding Opioid Claims in In re: Mallinckrodt PLC.