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Delaware court refuses to dismiss insurers’ opioid suit against CVS


A Delaware court Friday refused to dismiss or stay opioid-related coverage litigation filed against CVS Health Corp., despite parallel litigation in Rhode Island.

Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS has been named as a defendant in “myriad” lawsuits for allegedly contributing to and profiting from the country’s opioid crisis, according to the Delaware Superior Court’s ruling in In Re: CVS Opioid Insurance Litigation.

Eight of CVS’ insurers, which are American International Group Inc. and Chubb Ltd. units, filed two actions in the court in February seeking declarations they had no duty to defend or indemnify CVS against the opioid lawsuits.

Days later, CVS filed parallel litigation in state court in Rhode Island, according to the ruling.

CVS sought to have the Delaware litigation dismissed, accusing the insurers of forum shopping and arguing Rhode Island is the proper place for the case to be heard.

To prove its case, CVS “must show a sufficient burden visited by the plaintiff’s choice of Delaware as the forum in which to bring suit,” the ruling said.

CVS argued the insurers’ “alleged forum shopping weighs in favor of dismissing or staying the Delaware action,” it said.

“In response, Insurers argue that CVS’ accusations do not alter its burden of showing overwhelming hardship and that, in any case, CVS is attempting to engage in forum shopping itself by avoiding litigating this dispute in Delaware,” the ruling said in holding for the insurers.

On the hardship issue, the ruling said modern methods of information and transportation do not create “overwhelming hardship” for CVS if the case is heard in Delaware rather than Rhode Island.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. contributed to the opioid epidemic in San Francisco through its sale of prescription drugs in the city.