Welcome to the Official Tribal Opioid Settlements Website
Lawyers for American Indian Tribal Nations have brought suits against numerous companies involved in manufacturing and selling opioids in the United States. After lengthy litigation, they successfully negotiated settlements with many defendants.
These settlements involve Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt in federal bankruptcy courts. They also involve multidistrict litigation in federal district court, involving the three largest pharmacies: Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens (“Pharmacies”), several manufacturers, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (and its parent company Johnson & Johnson), Teva and Allergan (“Manufacturers”); three pharmaceutical distributors (McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen (referred to as the “Distributors”).
Three Native Americans have been appointed Directors of these settlement trust funds and assist with the distributions. Their job is to work with Tribes and organizations to ensure that the funds are distributed correctly and report to the court about the use of the funds. Another settlement with similar provisions, handled separately from these, has been reached with the management consulting firm McKinsey Consulting. While the Directors are not involved in that settlement, for the convenience of Tribes and Tribal organizations, the Directors have included links to that settlement on this website. Participation by Tribes in that settlement is encouraged.
Attorneys for Tribes are pursuing further litigation against other companies, and more settlements may be achieved. Moreover, the case involving Purdue Pharma was settled in principle but still needs to be finalized due to appeals and further litigation.
Together, the settlements will provide Tribes and Tribal Health Organizations in Alaska and California more than $1.5 billion. For all the settlements, the funds must be used for abatement of the opioid epidemic across Indian Country and prevention of further opioid abuse. Each settlement is slightly different. Several require payments to be made by the defendants over a period of years. This website contains information about the settlements and how Tribes may participate and receive settlement funds.
What are the lawsuits about?
The lawsuits claims that Opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers knew that Opioids are more addictive than they claimed, causing addiction and other harm to tribal members and their communities.
What is the history of the lawsuits?
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by Tribes, tribal health organizations, states, cities, counties, hospitals, union trust funds, and individuals. In 2017, a federal judicial panel consolidated the cases, now known as National Prescription Opiate Multi-District Litigation (MDL), and assigned them to Ohio federal district court Judge Dan A. Polster. Hundreds of federally recognized Tribes filed lawsuits, asserting their right to seek compensation as sovereign governments and on behalf of their citizens. Judge Polster appointed a Tribal Leadership Committee (TLC) to coordinate the tribal litigation and to advocate for all Tribes in the litigation and in any settlement negotiations.
Over the course of several years, Judge Polster has overseen pretrial proceedings in multiple litigation “tracks” and selected test cases for trial. He has also appointed special masters and mediators to urge the parties toward settlement, saying early on that no settlement would be complete without participation by tribal plaintiffs. Some of the defendants, including Purdue Pharma (the manufacturer of OxyContin) and Mallinckrodt PLC (one of the largest manufacturers of generic opioids) entered bankruptcy as a result of the litigation, transferring their cases to separate bankruptcy courts. Other Defendants such as the Distributors and J&J have also settled.
The Pharmacies and Teva/Allergan have now reached agreement with the TLC on terms for proposed settlements open to all federally recognized Tribes, whether or not they filed lawsuits.
This website contains information and documents related to each of these settlements. Tribes and tribal entities that are eligible to participate should consult with their counsel about participation.
There may be additional settlements in the future. Those settlements will be added to the website as well.