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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Acuity Had No Duty to Defend Opioid Suits Against Drug Distributor

September 13, 2022

Firm News

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Acuity Had No Duty to Defend Opioid Suits Against Drug Distributor

September 13, 2022

In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that economic losses incurred by municipalities for government services related to opioid addiction are not covered under commercial general liability policies issued to businesses that distribute opiates. The Court explained that these policies only provide coverage for specific bodily injuries sustained by individuals, and the 22 lawsuits brought by the municipalities did not tie their alleged losses to particular bodily injuries, but rather sought to recover the aggregate increased expenditures they experienced for government services. As a result, the Court held that Acuity Insurance did not owe a duty to defend former drug distributor Masters Pharmaceutical Inc. in the opioid lawsuits and reinstated the trial court’s judgment in favor of Acuity.

Tucker Ellis attorney Ben Sassé argued the Ohio Supreme Court appeal for Acuity Insurance. Ben collaborated with Karen Ludden of Novara Tesija Catenacci McDonald & Baas on strategy to achieve this result for Acuity. Also representing Acuity were Gary Nicholson of Gallagher Sharp LLP and John Chlysta of Hanna Campbell & Powell, LLP. The case is Acuity v. Masters Pharmaceutical, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-3092.

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