While we have enjoyed significant success over the years in predicting the outcomes of particular motions, lawsuits, or appeals, Minnesota Litigator has tried to predict big waves in civil litigation but our track record there has been poor. Our “big wave” predictions have not run aground with spectacular thundering crashes. Just barely audible tinkles.
And we did not see this one coming.
The linked 133-page complaint tells the harrowing tale of how Ramsey County (and every other county across the country, really) has had to deal with the tsunami of opiates over the past 15 years (see p. 18). (Similar complaints were also filed for Washington and Mower Counties.)
Ramsey County’s claims against the “legal drug dealers” (basically the entire market for prescription opiates) are: (1) public nuisance, (2) negligence and negligent misrepresentation, (3) negligence per se, (4) unjust enrichment, (5) common law fraud, (6) unlawful trade practices, (7) deceptive trade practices, (8) false statements in advertising, (8) consumer fraud act, and (9) the federal trademark law (the Lanham Act).
This is the kind of lawsuit that generally drives libertarians and politically conservative people insane.
This is also the kind of lawsuit for which the judicial assignment can have immense ramifications.
Finally, this is the kind of lawsuit that will go for years. It will be extraordinarily hard-fough and lawyers’ fees and costs will be in the tens of millions of dollars (or more).
Out of the starting gate, we would suggest that the assignment of the county cases to U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Nelson (D. Minn.) will be widely viewed as an excellent and promising start for the Plaintiff counties.
On the other hand, this litigation is neither a horse race nor even a marathon.
This is war — punishing, protracted, far too complex to anoint or predict a victor any time soon.