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Grocery chain suing insurers over opioid litigation losses


Supermarket chain Publix Super Markets Inc. is suing dozens of insurers in federal district in Tampa in connection with losses it has incurred stemming from opioid litigation.

Lakeland, Florida-based Publix, which is one of the largest-by-volume supermarket chains in the United States, operating more than 1,300 stores in Florida and several other southern states, said dozens of lawsuits have been filed against it and other unaffiliated pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies seeking damages for bodily injuries, death and mental anguish arising from the alleged improper sale of opioids, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tampa in Publix Super Markets Inc. v. Acre Property and Casualty Insurance Co., et al.

The lawsuit said the chain has “paid substantial premium”’ for broad general liability, druggists liability, umbrella liability and excess liability coverage for the “allegations and liabilities at issue” in the opioid lawsuits.

It says it has incurred, and continues to incur, substantial losses, including defense costs, claim expenses and fees, in defending against the lawsuits.

To date, it said, however, insurers’ response has been to deny they owe any coverage. Some have done so because they say the claims do not allege liability for damages because of bodily injury, while others have said that because the lawsuits include allegations of intentional conduct by Publix, they do not allege an occurrence under the coverage.

The company is charging the insurers with breach of contract, anticipatory breach of contract, and seeks declaratory judgments on their duty to defend and indemnify it.

Earlier this month, CVS Health Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. agreed to pay about $13.8 billion to resolve thousands of state, local and tribal government lawsuits accusing the pharmacy chains of mishandling opioid painkillers.