The Delaware Supreme Court on Monday, in a 4-1 ruling, overturned a lower court finding that the language of Rite Aid’s insurance policies required Chubb units to cover the liability. States and municipalities across the U.S. sued the chain, along with other pharmacy owners, drug makers and distributors, seeking to recoup costs associated the opioid epidemic.
But the appeals court said the lower court erred because
Terry Hickey, a Rite Aid spokeswoman, said the chain wouldn’t comment on the ruling. Eric Samansky, a Chubb spokesman, declined to comment.
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid is among more two dozen companies facing more than 3,000 suits filed by state and local governments over the public-health crisis tied to opioid painkillers. Municipalities blame opioid makers, like Johnson & Johnson, distributors such as
Government officials complain they spent billions trying to cope with the opioid epidemic, which they blame for killing more than 500,000 Americans over the last two decades. Earlier this year, Rite Aid agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a New York county’s claim that it failed to properly monitor opioid prescriptions.
The chain also negotiated an out-of-court settlement in a case in Cleveland, where other pharmacy providers -- including
In the Delaware case, Rite Aid demanded coverage under a 2015 policy issued by Chubb that could have provided $3 million toward defense costs. Chubb denied coverage for any of the company’s opioid exposure.
The case hinged on whether the policy extended to damages other than those tied to personal injuries, Chief Justice
If the municipalities “ran public hospitals and sued Rite Aid on behalf of these hospitals to recover their actual, demonstrated costs of treating bodily injuries caused by opioid over-prescription, the 2015 policy would most likely be triggered,” Seitz said. But because the governments seek to recover only tax dollars spent addressing the opioid epidemic, the policy didn’t apply, he added.
The case is Rite Aid Corp. et al. v.
(Updates with Rite Aid spokeswoman comment.)
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