CVS, Walgreens, Walmart ask for mistrial in opioid case, claiming juror misconduct

Two Ohio counties are suing the pharmacies over the opioid crisis

A juror in an opioid case against major pharmacies caused a stir in the trial by bringing in outside materials and distributing them to fellow jurors in what the judge referred to as "an absolute no-no."

The incident caused defendants CVS Health Corp, Walgreens, Walmart, Inc., and Giant Eagle, Inc. to call for a mistrial, claiming jury misconduct.

walgreens

 Walgreens Retail Location (istock / iStock)

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CVS CVS HEALTH CORP. 92.65 +1.78 +1.96%
WBA WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE, INC. 48.30 +1.77 +3.80%
WMT WALMART, INC. 139.00 +1.51 +1.10%

OXYCONTIN MAKER PURDUE PHARMA OPIOID SETTLEMENT OK'D BY JUDGE

Ohio counties Lake and Trumbull are suing the companies in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio, arguing that the pharmacies created a public nuisance in the communities due to the way they dispense pain medications.

The juror who decided to conduct individual research had brought in a flyer showing that Narcan, a medication used to treat opioid overdoses, is available for free from a local community program. She had printed off copies of the pamphlet to provide for other jurors.

Walmart pharmacy

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

OPIOID EPIDEMIC WAS MADE ‘MUCH WORSE’ DURING PANDEMIC: NARCAN INVENTOR

Jurors are always prohibited from conducting their own research on a trial outside of the courtroom, so the revelation that the outside materials had been brought in for distribution caused the court to interview every juror individually about whether or not they were influenced by the document.

The juror who brought in the Narcan flyer was dismissed, and the court determined that the trail could still continue.

CVS

CVS Pharmacy Retail Location (iStock)

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"Fortunately, [the flyer] appears to be on something that is really not relevant to anything the jurors have to decide," said Judge Dan Polster. "I mean, whether or not  – whether you have to pay for Narcan or whatever is very tangential. But I think I’ve impressed upon each of [the remaining jurors] that this is an absolute, absolute no-no."

The plaintiffs are seeking damages from the pharmacy chains, accusing them of not having enough restrictions on distribution of pain medications. Attorneys for the companies argue that pharmacists are simply following physicians' prescriptions when filling customers' orders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.