New Jersey has leaped into the midst of the national wave of claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The State of New Jersey has now launched two opioid litigations against opioid manufacturers, the first against Insys Pharmaceuticals and then a second suit against Purdue Pharma. The State has now also sued the president of Insys. The City of Newark has filed suit against several opioid manufacturers, and the City of Paterson has indicated that it will also file suit. Other municipalities and counties will undoubtedly follow.
The survival of some of the opioid companies may depend on whether they can access their insurance coverage. If coverage exists, it would be under general liability policies, which provide coverage for damages ‘because of bodily injury.’ General liability policies do not cover intentional wrongdoing, but do cover negligent and even reckless conduct. General liability policies not only provide for a duty to indemnify, but also a broad, unlimited duty to defend. So far, opioid insurance litigation has centered on the duty to defend.