Yadkin County, NC sues manufacturers over county’s opioid crisis

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In desperation, Americans have found a way to protest and resist the suppliers of the powerful opioid drugs that are fueling the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history—product liability lawsuits. According to Reuters, “The companies that manufacture and distribute highly addictive painkillers are facing a barrage of lawsuits for the toll their product has taken on communities across the country.”


In North Carolina in December, reported the Winston-Salem Journal, hard-hit Yadkin County filed 161-page a lawsuit in U.S. District Court naming 24 drug manufacturers and distributors as defendants, requesting a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages to cover the medical care of patients suffering opioid-related addiction. North Carolina’s Buncombe County filed a similar lawsuit in November.


Echoing the outrage of states, counties and municipalities across the U.S., Kevin Austin, the chairman of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners, said in a statement that the lawsuit “sends a clear message that the citizens of Yadkin County are taking strong action against the root cause of the opioid crisis — the actions and failures of the manufacturers and distributors of these powerful narcotic drugs.”


The lawsuit describes the opioid crisis in Yadkin County, in North Carolina, and in the U.S., and blames the drug industry for causing it, saying, “The opioid epidemic did not happen by accident.” The defendants, companies that distribute prescription opioids in NC, include Cardinal Health Inc. of Dublin, Ohio; McKesson Corp. of San Francisco, and Amerisourcebergen Drug Corp. of Chesterbrook, Pa.


In North Carolina, more than 12,000 residents died from opioid-related overdoes from 1999 to 2016, according to the lawsuit. The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in November that detailed how, in addition to devastating countless lives, the opioid epidemic is also a growing financial burden. The epidemic cost the nation $504 billion in 2015—about 2.8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. And that figure has likely increased substantially, as 2016 brought a 21 percent increase in overdose deaths. The number of opioid-caused fatalities each year already exceeds the number of American deaths in the Vietnam War.


According to Reuters, the lawsuit “strategy echoes the effort against major tobacco companies in the 1990s. … Some lawyers say the suits have the potential to force the industry to curb practices that contribute to it. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who sued five drug manufacturers for the costs of the opioid epidemic, said “If they’re not going to do it voluntarily, we’re going to drag them to the table and make them.”


Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at ram@mangerlaw.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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