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Anne Arundel County v. Purdue Pharma L.P.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 25, 2018

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
PURDUE PHARMA L.P., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Anne Arundel County, Maryland's (the “County”) Motion for Remand (ECF No. 10). The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Anne Arundel County is the fifth most populous county in Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 31, ECF No. 2). The County provides many services for its residents, including public health, public assistance, law enforcement, emergency care, and services for family and children. (Id.). The County also funds health insurance and workers' compensation claims for its employees. (Id.). For the purposes of this action, the County is a citizen of Maryland. (See id. ¶¶ 29-32).

         Defendants Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Cephalon, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc., and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (collectively, the “Manufacturer Defendants”) and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. (“Insys”) manufacture, market, and sell prescription opioid pain medications. (Id. ¶ 2). Manufacturer Defendants and Insys are not citizens of Maryland. (Id. ¶¶ 33-41).

         Defendants Cardinal Health, Inc., McKesson Corporation, and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation (collectively, the “Distributor Defendants”) distribute opioid medications to pharmacies, pain clinics, and other dispensaries across the country, including the County. (Id. ¶ 3). Each Distributor Defendant is not a citizen of Maryland. (Id. ¶¶ 42-45).

         Defendants William Tham, M.D., Physical Medicine and Pain Management Associates, P.C., Kofi Shaw-Taylor, Happiness Aguzie, Tormarco Harris, Minnie Ndem, Starlife Wellness Center LLC, Lawrence Vidaver, M.D., Maryland Healing Waters, LLC, Jackie Syme, M.D., and Arundel Neurology (collectively, the “Prescriber Defendants”) are healthcare providers in the County and the medical practices where the alleged over-prescribing of opiates occurred. (Id. ¶ 4). Each Prescriber Defendant is a citizen of Maryland. (Id. ¶¶ 47-57, 62).

         The County filed the present action in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland on January 3, 2018. (ECF No. 2). In its eight-count Complaint, the County alleges: (1) public nuisance against all Defendants (Count I); (2) violation of the Maryland False Claims Act, Md. Code Ann., Gen. Prov. §§ 8-101 et seq. (West 2018), against Manufacturer Defendants, Insys, and Prescriber Defendants (Count II); (3) violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 13-101 et seq. (West 2018), against Manufacturer Defendants and Insys (Count III); (4) fraudulent misrepresentation against Manufacturer Defendants and Insys (Count IV); (5) negligent misrepresentation against Manufacturer Defendants and Insys (Count V); (6) negligence against Manufacturer Defendants, Insys, and Distributor Defendants (Count VI); (7) gross negligence against Manufacturer Defendants, Insys, and Distributor Defendants (Count VII); and (8) unjust enrichment against all Defendants (Count VIII). (Compl. ¶¶ 321-421). The County seeks injunctive and monetary relief. (Id. ¶¶ a-m).

         The thrust of the County's Complaint is that the Manufacturer Defendants and Insys fraudulently marketed and promoted opioids, the Prescriber Defendants fraudulently over-prescribed opioids, and the Distributor Defendants failed to limit fraudulent or suspicious distribution of opioids, causing widespread opioid use and exacting a high monetary cost to the County. (See id. ¶¶ 1-28). This action is one of hundreds of lawsuits filed against manufacturers, distributors, and prescribers of opioid products on behalf of state and local governments related to alleged harms stemming from opioid abuse. See Feb. 28, 2018 Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-13) [“CTO-13”], In re Nat'l Prescription Opiate Litig. (MDL 2804), MDL No. 2804 (J.P.M.L.), ECF No. 798.[2]

         On December 5, 2017, before the County initiated this lawsuit, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) created a Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (the “MDL Court”) to manage all federal cases in which “cities, counties, and states . . . allege that: (1) manufacturers of prescription opioid medications overstated the benefits and downplayed the risks of the use of their opioids and aggressively marketed . . . these drugs to physicians, and/or (2) distributors failed to monitor . . . and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates.” Dec. 5, 2017 Trans. Order at 3, MDL 2804, ECF No. 328.

         On February 28, 2018, the JPML conditionally transferred this action to the MDL Court. CTO-13, MDL 2804, ECF No. 798. On March 7, 2018, the County filed a Notice of Opposition to the Conditional Transfer Order. Notice Opp'n Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-13), MDL 2804, ECF No. 866. The County filed a Motion to Vacate the Conditional Transfer Order on March 22, 2018. Pl.'s Mot. Vacate Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-13), MDL 2804, ECF No. 1005. The Manufacturer Defendants filed a Response in Opposition on April 12, 2018. Defs.' Joint Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Vacate CTO-13, MDL 2804, ECF No. 1191. The County filed a Reply on April 18, 2018. Pl.'s Reply Br. Supp. Mot. Vacate CTO-13, MDL 2804, ECF No. 1242.

         Defendants Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (collectively, “Endo”) filed a Notice of Removal from the Circuit Court to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland on February 20, 2018. (ECF No. 1). On February 26, 2018, the County filed a Motion for Remand. (ECF No. 10). Endo filed an Opposition on March 12, 2018. (ECF No. 31). The County filed a Reply on March 22, 2018. (ECF No. 38).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         The party seeking removal carries the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Wilson v. Republic Iron & Steel Co., 257 U.S. 92 (1921)). The Court must strictly construe removal jurisdiction because removal jurisdiction “raises significant federalism concerns.” Id. (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941)). Accordingly, if federal jurisdiction is doubtful, the Court should grant a motion to remand. Id. (citing In re Bus. Men's ...


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