Acuity v. Masters Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Acuity v. Masters Pharmaceutical, Inc. (Supreme Court of Ohio, Sept. 7, 2022): Ohio’s highest court ruled via a 5-2 majority that Acuity, an insurer, did not have a duty to defend its insured, Masters Pharmaceutical (Masters), in lawsuits brought by West Virginia, Michigan, and Nevada localities for economic losses caused by the opioid epidemic. These lawsuits represent increasing state and local government challenges against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retainers for allegedly misleading and dangerous practices that fueled the opioid epidemic. The insurance policy required Acuity to defend Masters against lawsuits alleging “damages because of bodily injury.” Acuity argued that the damages alleged did not involve “bodily injury,” falling outside the scope of policy coverage. The trial court agreed. The appeals court reversed, finding that economic damages alleged by the localities came about “because of physical harm from opioid addiction.” The Supreme Court of Ohio reversed again and reinstated the trial court’s decision, finding that “the governments’ claims for increased public-service costs are untethered to any one person’s bodily injury—but, rather, to the costs of the opioid epidemic generally” and that the lower court’s interpretation of “damages because of bodily injury” was overbroad. Read the full decision here.