Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

In re Nat'l Prescription Opiate Litig.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

April 15, 2020, Decided; April 15, 2020, Filed

File Name: 20a0116p.06

No. 20-3075

Opinion

 ] KETHLEDGE, Circuit [*2]  Judge. The rule of law applies in multidistrict litigation under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 just as it does in any individual case. Nothing in § 1407 provides any reason to conclude otherwise. Moreover, as the Supreme Court has made clear, every case in an MDL (other than cases for which there is a consolidated complaint) retains its individual character. That means an MDL court's determination of the parties' rights in an individual case must be based on the same legal rules that apply in other cases, as applied to the record in that case alone. Within the limits of those rules, of course, an MDL court has broad discretion to create efficiencies and avoid duplication—of both effort and expenditure—across cases within the MDL. What an MDL court may not do, however, is distort or disregard the rules of law applicable to each of those cases.

The rules at issue here are the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which have the same force of law that any statute does. The petitioners seek a writ of mandamus, on grounds that, in three instances, the district court has either disregarded or acted in flat contradiction to those Rules. We grant the writ.

The petitioners here are twelve retail pharmacy chains (the Pharmacies) [*3]  doing business in the respondent counties, namely Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio. Those counties are plaintiffs in two cases now pending in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio. The Counties' complaints in those cases initially did not include claims against the Pharmacies, but instead asserted claims against certain manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. Also pending in the Northern District of Ohio—before the same district judge, but only for purposes of "pretrial proceedings[,]" 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a)—are more than 2,700 other cases transferred there by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The plaintiffs in all those cases likewise assert claims arising out of the Nation's opioid crisis.

 The district court's first Case Management Order in the multidistrict litigation put the Counties' cases (along with one other case that likewise originated in the Northern District of Ohio) on an accelerated "Track One," with a trial date in March 2019. (Most if not all of the other cases in the MDL, so far as the record reveals here, were brought in other districts and thus are ones in which the district court lacks jurisdiction to conduct a trial.) The same Case Management [*4]  Order set a deadline of April 25, 2018 for the Counties to amend their complaints, which they did, on that date, by asserting claims against the Pharmacies as "distributors" of pharmaceuticals to their own retail pharmacies. The Counties expressly declined, however, to bring any claims against the Pharmacies as "dispensers" of prescription opioids. (Distributors ship pharmaceuticals wholesale; dispensers fill prescriptions.)

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 11923 *; 2020 FED App. 0116P (6th Cir.)

IN RE: NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION OPIATE LITIGATION.IN RE: CVS PHARMACY, INC.; OHIO CVS STORES, L.L.C.; DISCOUNT DRUG MART, INC.; GIANT EAGLE INC.; HBC SERVICE COMPANY; RITE AID OF MARYLAND, INC., dba Mid-Atlantic Customer Support Center; RITE AID OF OHIO, INC.; RITE AID HDQTRS. CORP.; WALGREEN CO.; WALGREEN EASTERN CO., INC.; WALMART, INC., Petitioners.

Prior History:  [*1] On Petition for a Writ of Mandamus. United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland; No. 1:17-md-02804—Dan A. Polster, District Judge.

In re Nat'l Prescription Opiate Litig., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90899 (N.D. Ohio, Feb. 6, 2018)

CORE TERMS

Pharmacies, cases, district court, complaints, amend, dispensing, discovery, prescription, motions, court's decision, deadline, Track, leave to amend, multidistrict, parties, opioid

Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Preliminary Considerations, Venue, Multidistrict Litigation, Equity, Adequate Remedy at Law, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Irreparable Injury, Pretrial Matters, Conferences, Scheduling Conferences, Governments, Courts, Rule Application & Interpretation, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Motion Practice, Authority to Adjudicate, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery