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45 Government Plaintiffs Seek Docket for Opioid Manufacturer Cases

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Plaintiffs including 45 cities, counties and government agencies that are suing the makers of opioid painkiller filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Mulitidistrict Litigation seeking to consolidate lawsuits nationwide in a central multidistrict litigation docket in Ohio or Illinois.

Presently, there are at least 66 federal actions filed for the local governments in 11 different federal district courts alleging similar wrongful conduct on by McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, and Cardinal Health, Inc. for illegally distributing opiods and creating a nationwide epidemic.

90 people die each day from opioids

Also named as defendants are the opioid manufacturers Purdue, Teva and Cephalon, Janssen, Endo, Actavis, and Mallinckrodt.

Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on drug abuse. The most commonly abused drugs are hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin and Percocet), oxymorphone (e.g., Opana), morphine (e.g., Kadian and Avinza), codeine, fentanyl, and others.

Attorney James C. Peterson of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC, in Charleston, WV filed the motion seeking pre-trial proceedings before US District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. in the Southern District of Ohio or US District Judge Staci M. Yandle in the Southern District of Illinois.

The plaintiffs will prosecute civil claims under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§1961, and state corrupt or unfair trade practices laws, public nuisance and negligence laws.

They seek an injunction relief to prevent the further unlawful distribution of opioid drugs, as well as damages including costs to abate the public nuisance.

Cases brought by government entities against the opioid manufacturers are pending in federal courts in the Southern District of Ohio (14 cases), the Southern District of Illinois (3), the Eastern District of Kentucky (19), the Southern District of West Virginia (17), the Western District of Kentucky (5), the Northern District of Ohio (2), the Western District of Washington (2), the Northern District of Alabama (1), the Eastern District of California (1), the District of New Hampshire (1), and the Eastern District of Tennessee (1).

"Defendants were responsible for maintaining effective controls against diversion of their controlled substances, designing and operating a system to disclose suspicious orders of controlled substances, reporting suspicious orders of controlled substances to the DEA and halting those orders," the motion says.

According to the motion, the opioid manufacturers and distributors deliberately ignored their duty under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to report and halt suspicious orders of opioids.

Further, it says the opioid manufacturers:

  • Had a lack of real-time monitoring and reporting, stripping the Drug Enforcement Agency of its ability to identify, investigate, and prevent the diversion of the highly addictive drugs, causing an epidemic of misuse and abuse of prescription opioids and a large number of opioid-related drug overdoses and deaths.
  • Launched a campaign to falsely deny the inherent danger of crippling addiction posed by the opioid prescription pills that they falsely marketed as allegedly safe for chronic pain.
  • Used front organizations and paid “key opinion leaders” to deceive prescribing doctors and government regulators.

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