Discovery referee could solve opioid lawsuit deadlock
For many, we have heard about the various lawsuits across the U.S. that relate to the opioid epidemic. Specifically, the lawsuits by various state attorney generals against opioid pharmaceutical companies attempt to hold those companies accountable for their part in starting and perpetuating the opioid epidemic. Recently, one such pharmaceutical company asked for a discovery referee to solve a discovery deadlock.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500,000 people have died from opioids in the U.S. between 1999 and 2019. As a result, over 3,000 lawsuits have been filed against opioid manufacturers. Each has made independent arguments, but most cite falsely marketing opioid drugs as safe and dumping illegal amounts of the drugs in communities, even when they knew most of it were being used illegally. Several distributors have already settled their cases for $26 billion.
How a discovery referee could help here
In this dispute, the New York Attorney General’s office is suing pharmaceutical company, Endo International PLC. Currently, both parties are in the pretrial discovery phase, and the NYAG is asking for a large number of documents from EI. As a result, the two parties are fighting over the scope of these discovery requests and the voluminous nature of each. NYAG is asking for a default judgment against EI because the parties have not resolved the dispute. Though, EI has asked for the appointment of a discovery referee to resolve the discovery disputes to allow the lawsuit to proceed.
What is a discovery referee?
A discovery referee (also known as a special master) is an independent third-party that serves as a referee to resolve pretrial disputes in contentious litigation. These independent third-parties can save the parties (and the court) time, and as a result, money. This is because all pretrial disputes can be decided by the discovery referee without the need to involve the judge.
Alternative dispute resolution
For Irvine, California, residents involved in litigation or thinking about it, a discovery referee is just one type of alternative dispute resolution that can avoid the need to go to court or deal with a judge. These ADR processes can save people money and time.