The Cherokee Nation reached a settlement with Walmart on Oct. 3 that resolves litigation over the chain retailer’s alleged role in contributing to the opioid epidemic on the tribe’s reservation in Northeast Oklahoma, according to Law360.
In their multidistrict litigation lawsuit, the Cherokee Nation alleged that Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc. and Walgreens exacerbated opioid addiction and overdoses on the tribe’s reservation. The case was initially filed in February 2018 in the Sequoyah County District Court before being transferred to a Federal court in 2021.
The Cherokee Nation adjusted its complaint to drop charges that the defendant companies had caused a “public nuisance” after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a $465 million verdict was invalid because it incorrectly used the state’s public nuisance laws.
In March, U.S. District Judge Ronald R. White sent the case back to Oklahoma state court after McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health settled with the Cherokee Nation for $75 million in 2021. Judge White determined that since McKesson had been the reason for the case to be remanded to a federal court, McKesson leaving the lawsuit meant that the case should be sent back to the state level.
In response, the defendant companies argued that Judge White could not send the litigation back to the state court level, and since the Cherokee Nation had already agreed to try the case in a federal court, taking the case back to the state level was equivalent to going back on their agreement.
While the defendant companies have been appealing whether the case should be in state or federal court, the Cherokee Nation has settled with Walmart for an undisclosed amount. Tyler Ulrich, counsel for the Cherokee Nation, told Law360 that the terms of the settlement are private.
The settlement notice does not include an admission of guilt by Walmart but does drop all claims against Walmart and Walmart stores with prejudice, with each side bearing their own attorney’s fees.