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Court Denies McKinsey’s Bid to Exclude 19 States from Opioid Litigation

An emptied bottle of oxycodone.

Oxycodone is the generic name for a range of opoid pain killing tablets. Prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pills on glass table with reflections

On Thursday, the Northern District of California issued an order denying McKinsey & Company, Inc.’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs from 19 states in the multidistrict litigation In re McKinsey & Co., Inc. National Prescription Opiate Consultant Litigation.

According to the court, the current litigation arises from consulting work the company performed for several opioid manufacturers.

The plaintiffs, which includes school districts, Indian tribes, political subdivisions and children from 31 states, allege that McKinsey helped the opioid companies develop aggressive sales and marketing tactics to boost opioid sales despite knowing that those tactics and the increased supply of opioids were causing serious harm to communities across the United States. Specifically, the plaintiffs’ complaint argues that McKinsey played a “central role” in the opioid crisis and worked collaboratively alongside its clients to “to sell as many opioids as conceivably possible.”

Following the complaint, McKinsey filed the motion to dismiss at issue seeking to dismiss the plaintiffs from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawai’i, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The order states that the plaintiffs’ allegations regarding McKinsey’s contacts with the states rely on its work for Purdue Pharma, the company that created and manufactured OxyContin. Further, the court states that McKinsey is not incorporated nor at home in any of the 19 states at issue. However, the order purports that the plaintiffs contend that McKinsey is subject to specific jurisdiction in the subject states.

In the order, the court states that it agrees with the plaintiffs’ argument that the states at issue have specific jurisdiction over McKinsey. The court states that the plaintiffs successfully established that McKinsey purposefully directed its activities at the subject states and that the plaintiffs’ claims arise from those activities. Specifically, the court found that McKinsey performed numerous acts directed at the subject states including market analysis in those states, creating target lists, working with Purdue sales representatives in those states and implementing state-specific sales strategies. 

Further, the court states that McKinsey failed to establish that exercising jurisdiction over it would be unreasonable. Therefore, the court denied McKinsey’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs from the 19 states at issue. 

McKinsey is represented by Todd & Weld LLP, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, Morrison & Foerster, Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP, Burr & Forman, Baker & Hostetler, Hinshaw & Culbertson, GableGotwals, Holland & Hart and Thompson Coburn. The plaintiffs are represented by Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger and Grabhorn Law Insured Rights.

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