Delaware Superior Court Says Rite Aid Cannot Obtain Insurance Coverage for Opioid Cases

A Rite Aid store at 1841 North Western Avenue is featured in Los Angeles, California, United States, January 21, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Blake

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  • Delaware Supreme Court rules in favor of Chubb in Rite Aid lawsuit
  • Court says Rite Aid is only entitled to coverage in bodily injury cases

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The Delaware Supreme Court ruled on Monday that insurance company Chubb Ltd was not required to provide cover and defend Rite Aid Corp in lawsuits accusing the operator of the drugstore chain of fueling the epidemic of opioids.

The ruling came in one of many nationwide disputes involving drug companies, drug distributors and pharmacies suing insurers to recover the costs of defending and settling thousands of opioid-related lawsuits.

A lower court judge found in 2020 that various Chubb affiliates were required to defend Rite Aid against lawsuits brought by two Ohio counties in federal multidistrict litigation over the outbreak.

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But Delaware’s highest court overturned the decision, finding that policies covering personal injury cases did not require Chubb to defend Rite Aid against lawsuits aimed solely at economic damage.

Rite Aid and his attorney, Morgan’s Gerald Konkel, Lewis & Bockius, did not respond to requests for comment. Chubb and his lawyers, including Jonathan Hacker of O’Melveny & Myers, have not commented.

More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed nationwide by largely state and local governments seeking to hold companies accountable for an opioid abuse crisis that has led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths .

The lawsuits charge Rite Aid with negligent dispensing of addictive prescription pain relievers. The company denies any wrongdoing and, in 2019, sued Chubb to recover the costs of its defense and future settlements.

In monday decisionChief Justice Collins Seitz said in order for Rite Aid to be covered, lawsuits must be brought by people injured by opioids – people suing on their own behalf or anyone treating or treating them .

But in the case of Ohio and Cuyahoga counties, which have filed similar opioid claims to other local governments, they specifically said they were not seeking redress for the bodily injuries of residents, Seitz said.

Instead, they brought a claim for damages for the injuries suffered by the counties as they grapple with the economic burden of a higher demand for medical treatment and the impacts on their criminal justice systems, Seitz wrote. for court 4-1.

“This claim is not about an individual injury but a public health crisis,” Seitz said.

Judge James Vaughn dissented, saying Chubb’s policy language should be interpreted broadly to cover any damages an organization might bring against Rite Aid for the care, loss of service or death of ‘a person because of an opioid addiction.

The case is ACE American Insurance Co, v. Rite Aid Corp, Delaware Supreme Court, # N19C-04-150.

For Chubb: Jonathan Hacker from O’Melveny & Myers

For Rite Aid: Gerald Konkel de Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Read more:

State Supreme Court overturns broad bar against insurers pursuing opioid coverage

Drugstore chains, including CVS, have helped fuel the opioid epidemic, US jury says

(This article has been corrected to fix the list of lawyers in the last paragraphs.)

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Report by Nate Raymond in Boston

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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