Kroger Agrees to Pay $1.2 Billion in Tentative Deal to Settle Nationwide Opioid Litigation


Kroger Agrees to Pay $1.2 Billion in Tentative Deal to Settle Nationwide Opioid Litigation

Supermarket giant Kroger has agreed to pay as much as $1.2 billion to states and $36 million to Native American tribes as part of a tentative deal it says would settle most of its outstanding opioid lawsuits.

States, municipalities and tribes will have an opportunity to opt-in to the settlement agreement, which will be paid out over 11 years, Kroger said in announcing the deal Friday. The company will also cover $177 million in plaintiffs' attorneys fees over six years with payments beginning in December.

"This settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability by Kroger and Kroger will continue to vigorously defend against any other claims and lawsuits relating to opioids that the final agreement does not resolve," said Kroger in its statement Friday.

The company said it expects to take a $1.4 billion charge during the second quarter, which will eat into its profits. It said it will provide more details on an investor call discussing its quarterly earnings on Friday.

"We believe that resolving these claims is in the best interest of Kroger and its customers, associates, and shareholders, and all of those affected by the crisis," Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip said in a call with investors shortly after announcing the proposed settlement.

Kroger, which has its own pharmacy, is one of many companies facing federal and state-level litigation for its role in distributing prescription drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic. The company previously settled claims with the states of West Virginia for $68 million and New Mexico for $58 million, according to press reports.

Rite Aid is currently facing more than 1,000 federal lawsuits that were combined into a multi-district case in Ohio as well as litigation from other states. Walgreens and CVS agreed to pay $17.3 billion over 15 years in opioid settlements.

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