State attorneys general are teaming up with the tort bar in an alliance against opioids makers that’s all about the settlement prospects, writes Margaret Little at Law and Liberty:
The Financial Times has predicted a “tidal wave” of litigation that will snowball into a global settlement. Once an industry finds itself in a position where it faces a plaintiff at every level of government in nearly every state, cities, towns, counties and states jostle to put their claims into suit to get a piece of the action, “particularly when it doesn’t cost politicians anything,” as Richard Ausness, a professor at the Kentucky College of Law, told the FT.
Which leads to the heart of the question. Any settlement will likely follow the template of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, a quarter of a trillion-dollar wealth transfer that bloated state governments, levied unlegislated and cruelly regressive taxes on smokers, and sent $20 billion in unappropriated public money to the state AGs’ favorite donors: the mass-tort trial lawyers who have become government-financed Lawyer Barons.
A similar settlement on opioids would temporarily ease fiscal crises in the many states that have frittered away their tobacco-settlement money; but it would only encourage more such lawless and unlegislated regulation of other targets. Furthermore, it will lead to higher pharmaceutical prices and higher healthcare costs and premiums, in a process that is utterly opaque to the public, taxed without representation to enrich the lawyers (many of them former state Attorneys General stepping into a self-engineered path to personal wealth) and the governments with which they are in league.
Read the whole thing here.
P.S. Esme Deprez and Paul Barrett of Bloomberg on wheeler-dealer Mike Moore.