Vanderbilt Law Review


Madison Perry

First Page



Opioids have had a devastating impact on the United States. They have drained governmental agencies’ resources, decreased property values, and destroyed families and entire communities. A growing number of individuals, local governments, and states have filed lawsuits, aiming to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their negligent contributions to the epidemic. Such manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have called upon their insurers, asserting that their commercial general liability policies demand an insurer- backed and bankrolled defense. Courts are divided in their interpretation of the language contained within the at-issue policies. Some consider the claims made by certain states and local governments to stem from a “bodily injury,” as is necessary to trigger coverage. Others disagree.

Using a form provided by the Insurance Services Office, this Note construes the at-issue policies in conjunction with the underlying claims and evaluates the holdings reached by the Sixth and Seventh Circuits and the Supreme Courts of Delaware and Ohio. An analysis of the government’s claims reveals that they are too vague and attenuated to be covered, especially as they are the result of decades and decades of reckless pill-pushing. Ultimately, this Note concludes that the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must be left to fend for themselves, given both the plain and unambiguous language of their policies and the ramifications of such a conclusion, socially and otherwise.