Local Governments Continue to Bring Lawsuits In On-Going Opioid Crisis

Jul 27, 2018

Credit Brandon Giesbrecht / Flickr

Local governments across Virginia say they have become overwhelmed by the cost of the opioid epidemic.

Earlier this year, several counties in Southwest Virginia filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers — Russell County, Dickenson County and Washington County among others. Now Loudoun County in Northern Virginia is considering a similar course of action. Loudoun Supervisor Ron Meyer.

“When someone has an overdose, emergency services are needed to go service that person. And also when someone is a drug addict, then they use local county services because they can’t provide for themselves.”

Legal expert Rich Kelsey says the strategy is to overwhelm Big Pharma with so many lawsuits, a settlement is inevitable.

“They are essentially hooking their wagon to large professional contingency plaintiff firms, and so the cost of the litigation is very small. And even if the case isn’t successful, you can’t really say it’s money lost.”

Attorney General Mark Herring is also moving forward with his own lawsuit. But if he’s successful, that money would go to the state. The local governments are trying to get their own slice of the pie.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.