Opioid Exposures

Opioids — a class of drugs dating back to some of history’s oldest medicinal practices — have again captured a critical spot in the popular consciousness. Proclaiming an epidemic, national and local media outlets race each other to release reports on the use, misuse, and misunderstanding of both legally prescribed and illegally obtained opioids, while policymakers debate, pass, and implement statutory and regulatory changes that complicate decades of established medical standards spanning multiple industries.

With nearly 400 attorneys and 22 offices spanning 10 states, companies and professionals have turned to Goldberg Segalla for the reassurance of a firm with a national reach, an interdisciplinary approach to legal services, and a commitment to the highest standards of cost-efficiency and professionalism.

Knowledgeable, interdisciplinary, agile, and adaptable, our Opioid Exposures team can handle virtually any litigated matter and advise on complicated opioid-related legal issues spanning the full range of our firm’s practice areas and industry-specific capabilities. These include:

  • Counsel on insurance coverage needs, policy wordings, exclusions, and more
  • Defense in all types of product liability, personal injury, commercial, and other types of litigation
  • Employment practices counseling and litigation
  • Medical malpractice and other professional liability matters
  • Pharmaceutical and life sciences concerns
  • Workers’ compensation defense and risk-management

Our clients include medical professionals and institutions, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, distributor, and others affected by opioid exposures. Our experience includes acting as trial, monitoring, appellate, and national coordinating counsel, as well as handling class actions and multidistrict litigation (MDL), increasingly common in this space.

Employment and Labor

Every decision an organization makes with respect to managing its workforce entails risk — and risks are especially high for decisions about employment policies and procedures involving opioids in the workplace. With a nationwide reach and soup-to-nuts capabilities spanning employment litigation, human resources advice and training, and labor relations for both the public and private sectors, our team has guided some of the country’s largest employers through high-stakes litigation and risk management initiatives involving opioids.

Attorneys on Goldberg Segalla’s Employment and Labor team view our representation as a strategic partnership aimed at protecting the enterprise and its leaders while helping to advance its management philosophy and maintain its company culture. We help businesses and their executives contextualize opioid-related employment decisions within the context of comprehensive employment practices — including the interplay of opioid-related laws and regulations with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and state and local laws covering sick leave — as well as other legal concerns spanning workers’ compensation, general liability, directors’ and officers’ (D&O) and professional liability, and insurance coverage needs. In addition, we offer innovative and adaptable training and risk management programs that aid our clients in developing this holistic approach. These include, notably, our Integrated Disability and Workforce Management Program, which has helped many major employers to reduce legal spending and other inefficiencies by coordinating legal strategies and actions spanning disability, leave, performance, workplace safety, and health management issues; employee training and compliance with state and federal regulations; workers’ compensation; and arbitrations and mediations, government agency proceedings, and employment litigation.

General Liability

The increasing prevalence of legally prescribed and illegally abused opioids has driven a variety of liability litigation in jurisdictions across the nation, including everything from transportation-related incidents involving drugged driving to premises liability cases. We defend cases involving personal injuries occurring to individuals while on the property of the owner or municipality, as well as in the workplace. We represent the insurers of major property owners, such as school districts, shopping centers and plazas, and other places where the public is accommodated. With a nationally-recognized litigation practice and a deep and experienced roster of general liability attorneys, Goldberg Segalla is well positioned to defend virtually any opioid-related liability claim.

Insurance Coverage

Within the context of opioid law and litigation, insurers and companies both need to be aware of the variety of different insurance and reinsurance options that may be required. Understanding how courts have addressed insurance coverage related to opioid litigation is a necessity. One of the premier practices advising and representing the international insurance and reinsurance industry, our 75-lawyer Global Insurance Services group defends insurers in coverage litigation and also advises businesses on coverage needs. Drawing on our extensive experience handling sophisticated and novel opioid-related coverage matters, we help to draft new policy wordings and exclusions, and identify and advise on emerging opioid-related coverage issues.

Medical Malpractice and Professional Liability

Health care providers such as physicians and pharmacies involved with the prescription of opioid products will become a focus of professional liability litigation involving claimed opioid-related injuries — whether directly by an addicted individual, or injuries alleged to be caused by the addiction of the addicted individual.

Goldberg Segalla’s Management and Professional Liability practice — nationally regarded for its bench strength and record of success in complicated matters — joins forces with the firm’s Health Care and Long-Term Care practices to defend all types of health care professionals and companies facing malpractice and other medical claims. Our attorneys have counseled and defended health care professionals and businesses through some of the most sweeping regulatory changes, advances in technologies and practices, and trends in individual and class action litigation to affect the industry in the last two decades — including matters related to the prescription, distribution, and administration of opioids.

Our team includes former in-house counsel for health care businesses and systems, hospital and emergency room advisory committee members, and a former paramedic. Combining deep and diverse health care industry experience, a collaborative and holistic approach to legal services, and relationships with the nation’s top expert witnesses, we consistently find the ideal resolution for the claims our clients face — whether through early settlement or dismissal, mediation, trial, or appeal. These clients have included physicians, administrators, nurses, physician's assistants, a wide variety of medical specialists, and other health care professionals; as well as hospitals, long-term care facilities, specialty medical practices, and health care systems.

Life Sciences and Product Liability

Goldberg Segalla has a nationally-recognized life science and product liability practice that has tried product liability cases on behalf of Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States and FTSE 100 in the United Kingdom. These cases have involved catastrophic personal injuries, multimillion-dollar property losses, and environmental damage, as well as injuries and wrongful death. Our attorneys have extensive experience in life science and other product liability exposures for medically related products, and are steeped in medical and scientific issues that are at the heart of almost all of the opioid-related litigation. 

Transportation

Goldberg Segalla also delivers comprehensive transportation litigation services and counsel focused on helping clients keep their income-producing assets moving, delivering, and reloading. We are experienced in representing regional and national truckingrail, automobile fleet, aviation, and other transportation-focused companies. We are particularly well-qualified to advise on the interplay of opioid-related employment policies and personnel decisions with the ADA and other statutes, as well as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and guidance, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

Workers’ Compensation

The prescription, over-prescription, and misuse of opioids increasingly affect workers’ compensation matters — both as contributory factors leading to injuries and as sources of rising claims and settlement costs. Because of this, we offer a comprehensive Opioid Impact Program (OIP) that helps claims professionals to reduce claimants’ use of prescription medications and to identify and mitigate claims that have the potential to spiral out of control in terms of cost and exposure. Our OIP employs an early-identification strategy to educate claims professionals on the key indicators of potentially problematic cases involving opioids and prescription drugs. It also sets forth a specific protocol to limit new prescriptions for new and older cases, along with a detailed blueprint on how to isolate, identify, and reduce claims with high prescription medication costs. The OIP is backed by the full force and national reach of the firm’s over 100-lawyer Workers’ Compensation practice, which has an extensive record of successfully defending private and public clients in a broad range of sectors and industries across the country. We have handled cases involving both major and minor injuries, in both the accident and occupational disease contexts.

Comprehensive Counsel, Stronger Defense

These are just a handful of the areas in which Goldberg Segalla can assist businesses, owners and executives, insurers, and professionals affected by the rapidly evolving landscape of opioid litigation and related issues. No list could be complete, because our attorneys continuously develop and apply new services and strategies to meet the fresh challenges that our clients face.

The group’s co-chairs have long been recognized as leaders in opioid-related law and litigation. Caroline J. Berdzik, also chair of the firm’s Health Care and Employment and Labor practices, draws on previous experience as in-house counsel to New Jersey’s largest privately held long-term care company, as well as her experience defending some of the country’s most prominent employers and providing them with ongoing risk avoidance counsel. Michael D. Shalhoub, who also serves as chair of the firm’s Life Sciences practice, is a nationally recognized authority on product liability, pharmaceutical/medical device, and medical malpractice defense, with a record of leadership in these areas at the highest levels of major legal and professional organizations. Beyond our leaders, other Goldberg Segalla attorneys have published and presented widely on issues at the forefront of the national discussion about opioids, and lawyers in our offices across the country are positioned and equipped to defend clients in opioid litigation, and advise on employment practices, and offer counsel on workers’ compensation claims-handling.

Home to true leaders in litigation and risk avoidance, Goldberg Segalla is also distinguished by a collaborative culture that allows us to make the most of our diverse practices for clients with complicated needs. “Putting the client first,” for us, means that our work begins with a concentrated effort to understand both the client’s industry and individual concerns and goals, and offer proactive legal counsel always aimed at long-term success. With a footprint stretching from Los Angeles to London, our attorneys have counseled clients across the U.S. and abroad, earning a reputation for outstanding work and stellar service. We did this by listening to our clients, appreciating their specific business philosophies and needs, and respecting their desire for efficiency. These values allow us — and our clients — to excel.