Kroger just agreed to pay up to $1.2 billion to states and Native American tribes who sued it for distributing opioids

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Grocery giant Kroger could pay more than a billion dollars to states and Native American tribes to settle claims that it helped fuel the national opioid crisis, the company announced Friday.

The company has agreed to hand over up to $1.2 billion to states and $26 million to Native American tribes, in equal installments over 11 years, and around $177 million to cover attorney fees, the company said in a news release. The money will be used to fund abatement efforts, including preventing opioid addiction and treatment and recovery efforts for those who are addicted.

Kroger will have “full discretion to determine whether there is sufficient participation for the settlement to become effective,” the company said in the release.

The settlement serves as “important milestone in the company’s efforts to resolve the pending opioid litigation and support abatement efforts,” the company said in the news release. “Kroger has long served as a leader in combating opioid abuse and remains committed to patient safety.”

The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability, the company said, adding that it would “continue to vigorously defend against any other claims and lawsuits relating to opioids.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a Friday news release that his office would continue to hold accountable companies “that created and fueled the opioid epidemic.”

“These dollars will help save lives, and we will make sure these companies can’t repeat their mistakes,” he said in the news release.

The settlement only applies to states in which Kroger operates, under its own name or other names like Harris Teeter, Dillons, Fred Meyer, Smith’s Food and Drug, Ralphs, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, and Mariano’s.

Negotiations were led by attorneys general from North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Illinois, and Virginia, according to Stein’s office.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.

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