UPDATE: Endo, the last drug company left in the Sullivan Baby Doe lawsuit, has offered $35 million to settle the suit, according to a Thursday afternoon statement on the company’s parent website.
That’s a mere 1.5% of the original $2.4 billion the local government plaintiffs--nine counties and a slew of cities and towns within them--sought in damages from the pharmaceutical company for its role in Northeast Tennessee’s opioid addiction crisis. The $2.4 billion didn’t include the damages also sought by Baby Doe, a Sullivan County baby born addicted to opioids and the plaintiff for whom the case is named.
“Endo International plc...today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiaries Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (collectively, "Endo") have reached an agreement in principle to settle an opioid-related case originally captioned as Staubus, et al. v. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al…in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County, Tennessee,” the statement said.
Based on a variety of legal websites, an agreement in principle appears to be the first pass at a settlement--the big picture, minus the full details and final stamp of approval. The settlement itself “remains subject to final approval by certain plaintiffs and the execution of definitive documentation, would fully and finally resolve the case,” Endo International said in the statement.
“We are pleased that after four-plus years of litigation...we have been able to reach an agreement in principle with Endo, and are grateful to the communities of Northeast Tennessee for their support in this landmark prosecution,” J. Gerard Stranch IV, managing partner of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, the firm representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that afternoon. “We cannot comment further until all matters concerning participating cities and counties have been finalized, which we anticipate happening in the coming week.”
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The “Sullivan Baby Doe” damages trial, originally scheduled to begin Monday, has been postponed to the following Monday, August 2, while jury orientation for the trial has been postponed to next Thursday, according to court officials.
The news came amid a series of local government meetings that have indicated the possibility of a settlement between Endo--the last drug company in the case--and the 9 Northeast Tennessee counties seeking $2.4 billion from the company for its role in the region's opioid addiction crisis.
Jury orientation had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m. this morning at the Bristol Tennessee Courthouse. About 60 people showed up for the orientation in a second-floor courtroom, along with attorneys for the plaintiffs and defense.
At about 9:15, court bailiff Troy Brunelli walked to the front of the room.
“There’s been an unusual development, folks,” he told the potential jurors.
He told them that jury orientation would not happen that morning, then shared the news about the new dates for the orientation and trial. There was an abrupt whumping of retractable chair seats as everyone in the room rose and filed out.
On its website, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts now lists jury orientation as starting at 9 a.m. next Thursday. According to Sullivan County Circuit Court Clerk Bobby Russell, those summoned for jury orientation should call the courts Wednesday night to see whether they’re needed Thursday.
J. Gerard Stranch IV, the Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings attorney leading the plaintiffs’ team, offered no comment but did confirm that the 3 p.m. hearing for the case scheduled today had been cancelled.
Brigid Carpenter, managing shareholder of Baker Donelson, the firm representing Endo in the suit, also offered no comment.