TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation announced today a settlement of its ongoing opioid diversion claims case against McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Cardinal Health.
The settlement terms have yet to be announced, but include a total payment of slightly over $75 million to be paid over six and a half years. This is the largest settlement in Cherokee Nation history.
Claims against Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS, however, remain pending and the Cherokee Nation intends to vigorously pursue those claims through trial. Trial of the pharmacy claims is expected next fall.
The Cherokee Nation was one of the first governments in the country to file a case against opioid distributors and retail pharmacies in 2017. The case was also the first filed by a sovereign tribal government.
“This settlement will help reduce and prevent opioid addiction and its deadly consequences in the Cherokee Nation Reservation. We are grateful that these distributors share our desire to solve the problem. We believe today’s settlement will do more to help solve this problem— and solve it sooner — than continued litigation,” Cherokee Nation, Attorney General Sara Hill said.
“Today’s settlement will make an important contribution to addressing the opioid crisis in the Cherokee Nation Reservation; a crisis that has disproportionately and negatively affected many of our citizens. This settlement will enable us to increase our investments in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Similar claims brought by state and local governments, as well as other Native American nations are pending in several courts across the country, including an MDL proceeding in Cleveland, Ohio.
Today’s settlement is separate from, and independent of, any settlements or discussions in those cases.
The Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s Office partnered with Boies Schiller Flexner, Fields PLLC, and Whitten Burrage to litigate the case.