Endo Pharmaceuticals keep important evidence out of discovery.
In Sullivan County Circuit Court, Chancellor E.G. Moody entered a default judgment in the civil trial against Endo Pharmaceuticals, saying the company “willfully withheld records during legal discovery trial.” In his ruling, the judge cited a dozen falsehoods from Endo’s legal team as the case played out.
The ruling finds the opioid manufacturer and another Endo subsidiary liable and sends the case right to a trial over damages. “Although this is a harsh sanction, justice demands it under the circumstances,” Moody wrote. “Anything less would make a mockery of the attorneys who play by the rules and the legal system.”
The plaintiffs have sued for $2.4 billion. The judge wrote they have “expert testimony that supports that amount.”
“We look forward to putting our $2.4 billion damage case to a jury and ultimately seeing funds returned directly to these small communities, which have borne the brunt of Endo’s focus on financial gain,” said attorney Gerard Stranch, who is representing the plaintiffs.
Endo was the last drug maker in the case after Mallinckrodt and Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy. The lawsuit seeks to hold the company liable under the Tennessee’s Drug Dealer Liability Act under which allows families whose mother’s drug use resulted in babies born addicted to sue for damages. Initially, seven District Attorneys General and two unnamed children identified as “Baby Doe plaintiffs” sued the drug companies under the Act.
In December, The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously held that Endo Health Solutions Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc may be sued by babies harmed by their mothers’ use of opioids. The Court also held that seven District Attorneys General who had individually sued the drug companies on behalf of their districts “did not have standing” to sue under the Act. Their corresponding cities and counties are in the process of being included instead.
Justice Sharon G. Lee of the Tennessee Supreme Court, on behalf of the Court wrote that the drug companies could not “invoke their status as otherwise lawful companies to avoid civil liability” for intentionally flooding “communities in East Tennessee with highly addictive opioids they knew would be sold in the illegal drug market.” The lower court judge had already held the company in contempt of court in May 2020 over discovery issues, including false statements.
“Many of the records that the company knowingly withheld were highly relevant and, in some cases, directly contradict testimony by Endo’s witnesses,” Moody wrote. “Plaintiffs should not be forced to choose between going to trial without this highly relevant information, which Endo and its attorneys intentionally hid from Plaintiffs and this Court or delaying the trial for months or even a year.” He added that Endo and its attorneys “have no shown any remorse, admitted their wrongdoing or apologized to opposing counsel or the Court for their actions.”
of the default judgment, District Attorney General Barry Staubus, said, “It’s very rare, but then again, rarely do you see the kind of behavior and actions taken by counsel and a defendant as outlined in that order.”