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Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. Purdue Pharma L.P.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 25, 2018

MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE, 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 Mayor & City Council of Baltimore's (“Baltimore City” or the “City”) Motion to Remand (ECF No. 7). 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Baltimore City is “a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Maryland.” (Compl. ¶ 22, ECF No. 2). According to the City, opioid use “has disrupted the lives of its citizens, damaged its communities, and imposed overwhelming financial and logistical costs on its government.” (Id. ¶ 17). As a result, the City “has expended extraordinary time, effort, and funds to combat the opioid epidemic.” (Id. ¶ 18). For the purposes of this action, Baltimore City is a citizen of Maryland. (See id. ¶ 22).

         Defendants Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc. (collectively, “Purdue Pharma”), Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Cephalon, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Allergan, Plc, Actavis, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., Actavis, LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc., and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (collectively, the “Manufacturer Defendants”) manufacture, market, and sell prescription opioid pain medications. (Id. ¶¶ 23-36). Each Manufacturer Defendant is not a citizen of Maryland, or in the case of the Purdue Pharma, the City could not identify the companies' citizenship. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 29, 31, 34).

         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 in Baltimore City. (Id. ¶¶ 37-42). Each Distributor Defendant is not a citizen of Maryland. (Id. ¶¶ 37, 39, 41).

         Defendants Rosen-Hoffberg Rehabilitation and Pain Management Associates, P.A., Norman B. Rosen, and Howard J. Hoffberg (collectively, the “Rosen-Hoffberg Defendants”) are healthcare providers in Baltimore City and the medical practice at which the alleged over-prescribing of opiates occurred. (Id. ¶¶ 43- 45). Each Rosen-Hoffberg Defendant is a citizen of Maryland. (Id.).

         The City filed the present action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland on January 31, 2018. (ECF No. 2). In its four-count Complaint, the City alleges: (1) public nuisance against all Defendants (Count I); (2) negligence against all 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 (Count III); and (4) violation of the Maryland False Claims Act, Md. Code Ann., Gen. Prov. §§ 8-101 et seq. (West 2018), against Manufacturer Defendants (Count IV). (Compl. ¶¶ 248-80). The City seeks injunctive and monetary relief. (Id. ¶¶ (a)-(i)).

         The thrust of the City's Complaint is that the Manufacturer Defendants fraudulently marketed and promoted opioids, the Rosen-Hoffberg 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 City. (See id. ¶¶ 1-21). 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 Mar. 27, 2018 Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-18) [“CTO-18”], In re Nat'l Prescription Opiate Litig. (MDL 2804), MDL No. 2804 (J.P.M.L.), ECF No. 1036.[1]

         On December 5, 2017, prior to the City initiating 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, MDL 2804, ECF No. 328.

         On March 27, 2018, the JPML conditionally transferred this action to the MDL Court. CTO-18, MDL 2804, ECF No. 1036. On April 2, 2018, the City filed a Notice of Opposition to the Conditional Transfer Order. Notice Opp'n Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-18), MDL 2804, ECF No. 1088. The City filed a Motion to Vacate the Conditional Transfer Order on April 16, 2018. Pl.'s Mot. Vacate Cond'l Trans. Order (CTO-18), MDL 2804, ECF No. 1213.

         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 March 16, 2018. (ECF No. 1). On March 19, 2018, the City filed a Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 7). Endo filed an Opposition on March 26, 2018. (ECF No. 27). The City filed a Reply on March 29, 2018. (ECF No. 32).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Stand ...


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