Proposed $26 billion national settlement reached in opioid litigation involving state and local governments

Jul 21, 2021

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a proposed national settlement earlier today for state and local government claims against three major opioid distributors and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The proposed $26 billion settlement arises out of thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments throughout the nation — including 79 cities and counties in California — to recover monetary damages to abate the opioid public health crisis.

In order to bring the maximum amount of money (more than $2 billion) into California, the settlement requires local governments — whether they have filed a lawsuit or not — to sign onto the agreement.

In anticipation of this national settlement, a statewide working group of more than 20 city and county litigants has been coordinating with the office of the California Attorney General for nearly a year to create an equitable intrastate allocation agreement for the funds that flow to California.

Recognizing that California’s cities and counties will expend the greatest resources confronting the opioid public health crisis, the statewide working group has prioritized payment of settlement funds directly to local governments, rather than through a state-mandated grant or application process. An allocation agreement between the statewide local government working group and the California Attorney General has yet to be reached, but negotiations are ongoing.

Given the relatively short deadline within which the state and local governments must decide whether to sign onto the national agreement (30 days for the state and 150 days for local governments), Cal Cities anticipates more information on both the national agreement and the intrastate allocation will become available soon.

Cal Cities will provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, cities that have questions about the impact of this national settlement on their city should consult with their city attorney.

City attorneys with questions should contact Cal Cities’ General Counsel Corrie Manning.