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The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided that two insurers do not owe either the duty to defend or the duty to indemnify to Quest Pharmaceuticals, a Kentucky-based company defending itself against nearly 80 lawsuits based on its promotion and distribution of opioid prescriptions. The case is Westfield Nat’l Ins. Co. v. Quest Pharms., Inc., 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 851 (6th Cir. 2023).    

Quest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Quest) is but one of the wholesale drug distributors currently in court for its alleged contribution to the nationwide opioid crisis. When cases were filed against Quest, the company promptly notified its CGL insurers: Motorists Mutual Insurance Company (Motorists), who insured Quest from 2004 to 2015, and Westfield National Insurance Company (Westfield), who was the company’s insurer from 2015 to 2017. The suits had been filed by various cities, counties, health departments, private clinics, and even the State of Illinois, seeking damages for “significant expenses for police, emergency, health, prosecution, corrections, rehabilitation, and other services.” (internal quotes, citation omitted). Though Motorists and Westfield insured Quest under different policies, the relevant policy language, including definitions for both “bodily injury” and “damages because of bodily injury,” was identical. Both Westfield and Motorists sought declaratory judgment that neither company owed the duties of defense and indemnity to Quest as soon as they heard of the lawsuits. In each case, the insurer filed for and was granted summary judgment, which Quest appealed; both appeals were denied. The cases were consolidated for argument and opinion before the Sixth Circuit. 

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