Nearly twenty years ago, TDR partner Daniel L. Stanner won an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court in Beretta v. City of Chicago. The City alleged that national distributors flooded the surrounding states with firearms knowing they would make their way into Illinois via an illegal black market. The landmark ruling held that the City could not pursue public nuisance claims against the distributors for that alleged misconduct.
Courts in Illinois and West Virginia have now applied Beretta v. City of Chicago to absolve pharmaceutical distributors of liability for the opioid crisis. In January 2022, Cook County Chancery Judge Caroline Kate Moreland cited Beretta, when dismissing nuisance claims against TDR client, McKesson Corporation. Similarly, on July 4, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia dismissed nuisance claims against several pharmaceutical distributors based, in part, on Beretta. Both cases involved high stakes claims against an entire industry. The courts recognized that public nuisance law cannot be broadly applied to challenge the distribution of a lawful product.