Walmart Investors Get Lead Plaintiff for Suit Over Opioid Crisis

May 12, 2021, 4:56 PM

Walmart Inc. investors who accuse the company of misleading them about its role in the opioid epidemic and purported Controlled Substances Act violations secured a lead plaintiff for their would-be class suit in federal court in Delaware.

The retailer allegedly failed to tell investors about its purportedly unlawful distribution of controlled substances from its pharmacies across the U.S., including prescriptions that should have raised flags for possible abuse. Individual investor Kim Kengle will take on the lead role guiding the proposed class suit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware said.

Kengle—who became involved in the suit as trustee of the Kim K. Kengle 2000 Trust—lost more than $123,000 when the market learned of the alleged wrongdoing and Walmart’s share price dropped, according to a memo in support of Kengle’s appointment as lead plaintiff filed in March.

Judge Colm F. Connolly signed the order naming Kengle lead counsel and consolidating several cases. The Tuesday order also approved Kengle’s selection of the Rosen Law Firm PA as lead counsel.

“We take these matters seriously,” Walmart told Bloomberg Law in January. “We disagree with the allegations in the complaint, and we will defend this matter vigorously.”

The investor suit follows December 2020 Justice Department accusations that Walmart ignored its pharmacists’ warnings about problems with how it handled opioid prescriptions, which helped to fuel the epidemic.

Richards, Layton & Finger PA represents Walmart in the proposed class suit.

The case is In re Walmart Inc. Sec. Litig., D. Del., No. 1:21-cv-00055, cases consolidated and lead plaintiff appointed 5/11/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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