Arizona high court rejects major part of Tucson hospital opioids lawsuit

Sep 2, 2021, 7:00 AM
(Tucson Medical Center Photo)...
(Tucson Medical Center Photo)
(Tucson Medical Center Photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona Supreme Court ruling rejects a major part of a Tucson hospital’s lawsuit accusing a pharmacy chain of negligence and seeking compensation for care provided to opioid-addicted patients.

The justices ruled Wednesday that Tucson Medical Center can’t sue CVS Health Corporation for alleged negligence through distribution of opioids.

The 2018 lawsuit said CVS was part of a conspiracy of drug manufacturers and others who promoted the use of opioids and fueled the national opioid epidemic, causing huge losses for hospitals.

The court agreed with CVS, saying that state and federal law don’t create a legal duty for pharmacies to hospitals under the facts underlying the case and that the medical center can only resort to filing liens against the addicts to try to recover costs of uncompensated care.

The justices “recognize the tremendous costs imposed by the opioid crisis on society generally, and hospitals specifically. The human costs are tragic. However, it is for Congress and the legislature, not the courts, to create methods to alleviate those costs,” Justice Clint Bolick wrote.

The case now returns to trial court for consideration of claims — not considered in the appeal decided Wednesday — alleging public nuisance and unjust enrichment.

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Arizona high court rejects major part of Tucson hospital opioids lawsuit