Sullivan County ‘Baby Doe’ lawsuit against opioid manufacturers moves forward

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A Sullivan County judge provided findings on numerous motions related to a civil case against drug manufacturers Tuesday.

Last summer, Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus, as well as District Attorneys General Tony Clark and Dan Armstrong filed a join lawsuit against drug manufacturers on behalf of Baby Doe, a baby born addicted to opioid.

The suit seeks money from drug makers to fight the opioid epidemic.

During the four hour hearing Tuesday, a motion was made by a defense attorney representing Endo Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt PLC to request the judge to send the lawsuit to the Court of Appeals.

The motion was denied by Sullivan County Chancellor Judge E.G. Moody.

Gerard Stranch, a managing partner for law firm Bransetter, Stranch and Jennings, PLLC, described the move as a delay tactic. Stranch is representing the three area district attorneys in the case.

He went on to request documents by Endo Pharmaceuticals, regarding the sale and distribution of opioid in Tennessee, be released.

It was approved by Judge Moody, which means more than 3.7 million pages of documents will start to be released in seven days.

Moody gave Endo Pharmaceuticals just 90 days to send these documents to the district attorney’s representatives.

“We have plenty of lawyers standing by that will be reviewing those documents and we’re going to be pushing this case as quickly as we can,” Stranch said. “The counties and the cities and the district attorneys desperately need this money to try to combat the opioid crisis.”

Judge Moody also dismissed the third-party complaint by Endo and Mallinckrodt, which claimed the cities and counties could be held accountable for the opioid epidemic by not including more resources to fight the epidemic.

“These companies have a lot of money and they’ve hired very good lawyers, Stranch said. “They’re doing everything they can to avoid being hauled in here to court and having to answer for their wrongdoings, so it’s no surprise they have delayed this case, but their day of reckoning is coming and it will not be much longer before they will have to stand in front of 12 citizens of Sullivan County and explain their actions.”

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said he was satisfied with Tuesday’s results. 

“We can now move on to the discovery process before they head to trial,” Staubus said.

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