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With America facing the worst drug crisis in its history, BatesCarey LLP founded the nation’s first Opioid Coverage Task Force to guide its insurance clients through the corporate liabilities and exposures posed by these developing risks.  Our team actively monitors every opioid lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and healthcare professionals who have already seen their industry saddled with hundreds of millions of dollars in defense and settlement costs, with estimates that this is only the iceberg’s tip. 

The BatesCarey LLP Opioid Coverage Task Force is involved in not only assisting insurers in monitoring the novel and evolving liability theories faced by their own insureds, but our team is deeply engaged in helping insurers determine the extent to which the exposures from the opioid litigation may be covered by insurance.  Balancing the interests of the insureds in maintaining the backing and support of their insurers, while protecting the policy intent and wording of the policies at issue, is the line we often find ourselves walking. 

The opioid litigation facing the insurance industry is destined to demand new approaches to those tried and true coverage issues that our team has litigated for decades.  For example, are the costs of resolving these suits in the nature of compensatory damages or fines and penalties?  Can a payment to a governmental agency for public nuisance constitute a covered payment “because of bodily injury”?  How many occurrences are at issue in a suit involving such a mass tort, and does the answer change when the victims themselves may have participated in criminal acts?  To the extent our insurance clients seek to impose new wordings to address these issues, how will that impact the perceived intent of prior policies that lack this clarification? 

As these and other issues evolve through the insurance and reinsurance market, the BatesCarey LLP Opioid Coverage Task Force is there to provide advocacy, resources and counsel to our clients.  For examples of our team’s articles addressing these issues, please click here:  

 

“America On Opioids,” CLM Magazine cover story (August 2017)   

 

 

“The Opioid Epidemic: As the Pharmaceutical Industry Is Targeted, Will It Be Covered by Insurance?" Mealey's Emerging Insurance Disputes (July 6, 2017) 

 

 

“Senate Bill May Force Rise in Suits for Opioid Funding,” Law360 Insurance, Expert Analysis (June 27, 2017)

 

 

"The Evolution of Opioid Suits And Insurance Coverage," Law360 Insurance, Expert Analysis (June 19, 2017)

For questions, comments, or a presentation to your claims team regarding these developing issues, please contact Adam H. Fleischer, R. Patrick Bedell, or Kevin F. Harris.