The Delaware Superior Court recently ruled that ACE American – one of Rite Aid’s general liability insurers – must defend Rite Aid in hundreds of lawsuits brought against it by government agencies and political subdivisions alleging that Rite Aid improperly distributed opioids. The Delaware Superior Court’s decision marks the third decision in three months confirming that general liability insurers should be defending their policyholders in prescription opioid litigation filed by government entities seeking to recover as damages the amounts that they allegedly spent to provide medical, health, emergency, and other services to citizens suffering from opioid addiction.
At issue before the Delaware Superior Court was Rite Aid’s motion for partial summary judgment requesting a defense from ACE American for the hundreds of government entity prescription opioid claims that have been consolidated in the National Prescription Opiate Multidistrict Litigation, MDL 2804, pending in the Northern District of Ohio. The court granted Rite Aid’s motion, and denied ACE American’s cross-motion for partial summary judgment, which ACE American submitted along with certain other Chubb entities that issued general liability policies to Rite Aid during the relevant time period.
The court began by stating that it need not decide whether Pennsylvania or Delaware law governs the ACE American policy, given that the states’ laws did not conflict and were not materially different with respect to the cross-motions’ relevant issues. The court then went on to reject each of the four principal defenses to coverage that ACE American presented.