BISMARCK — An appeal was filed in the North Dakota Supreme Court this week to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit the state brought against a major opioid manufacturer.
Notice to appeal the decision, which determined Purdue Pharma was not responsible for monetary compensation for losses tied to the opioid epidemic, was filed Monday, Aug. 5. An oral argument has not yet been scheduled.
Nearly every state has filed a lawsuit against companies in the drug industry, but North Dakota’s lawsuit is the first statewide suit to be dismissed. Purdue Pharma, which produces OxyContin, settled with Kentucky and Oklahoma. About 2,000 similar suits were filed by cities, counties or tribal governments — including dozens in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed the lawsuit in May 2018 with the aim to hold Purdue Pharma financially accountable for “medical care and law enforcement response of North Dakota’s population due to overuse, addiction, injury, overdose and death,” the court document said. The suit claimed the opioid crisis was largely fueled by “a fraudulent and deceptive marketing campaign intended by Purdue to increase sales of its opioid products.”
Judge James Hill granted a dismissal of the case in May because “the state’s effort to hold one company to account for this entire, complex public health issue oversimplifies the problem,” the order said.
An appeal was struck down last month at the district level and the case now lies in the hands of the state Supreme Court.