Mark Chalos, Managing Partner of the Nashville office of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and Jonathan Taylor of Taylor & Knight, GP, announce that Scott County, Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors to recover taxpayer money spent combatting the opioid epidemic wreaking havoc on the Scott County community. The complaint, which was filed in Tennessee federal court, alleges that the named opioid drug manufacturers and distributors and their agents deliberately and repeatedly violated state and federal laws by widely and falsely promoting highly addictive opioids as safe and necessary, all the while concealing the true risks of the drugs.
The complaint also alleges that defendants conspired to manufacture and distribute millions of doses of highly addictive opioids, knowing that they were being trafficked and used for illicit purposes, and recklessly disregarded their devastating effect on the taxpayers and government of Scott County. As a result of the manufacturers’ and distributers’ conduct, Scott County taxpayers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the opioid crisis and to address the devastating effects on their community.
“Tax payers in Tennessee have paid more than their fair share to fight the opioids catastrophe created by the multi-billion dollar opioids industry; it’s time the industry paid its fair share,” stated Chalos. “Seeking to hold wrongdoers accountable in federal court is the most effective way to make sure that Scott County has a seat at the table for the discussion about recovering tax payer money and finding long-term solutions to the opioids crisis,” Chalos said.
Mayor Dale Perdue said, “Like so many other cities and communities across the country, the opioid epidemic has been devastating on Scott County. I am hopeful that this lawsuit will allow us to recover the public funds that we have been forced to spend to combat the problems that the opioid manufacturers and distributors are responsible for in our community.”
The named Defendants include Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Teva Pharmaceutical, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Noramco Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Mallinckrodt, Allergan, Actavis, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, and additional affiliated businesses and entities.
Jonathan Taylor of Taylor & Knight, stated, “The time has come for the manufacturers and distributors of these pernicious opioid pills to face full responsibility for their destructive and predatory conduct. Their actions — and their knowing inactions — have destroyed lives and families across all of Scott County and indeed, across the entirety of the U.S.”
Scott County, TN
Formed in 1849, Scott County has a long history of contributions to America. The County is best known for having seceded from Tennessee in protest of the State’s decision to join the Confederacy during the Civil War, and subsequently forming the Free and Independent State of Scott in 1861. The late Senator Howard Baker, Jr. (1925-2014) is Scott County’s most famous citizen. Known as the “Great Conciliator” in Washington D.C., Senator Baker was the first Republican Senator from Tennessee since Reconstruction, and became the standard-bearer for moderate Republicans. Today, Scott County finds itself at the center of an endless battle to protect all its residents, including its next generation of leaders and citizens, from the opioid epidemic that is taking a daily, deadly toll in Scott County, and counties across the nation.
Opioid Addictions Have Created a Swath of Destruction Across Scott County
As alleged in the Complaint:
Opioids are estimated to kill upwards of 100 Americans per day, and cost health services providers billions of dollars per year both in payments for unnecessary and harmful prescriptions of the drugs themselves and the costs of treating the diseases and injuries they cause. Accidental drug overdose deaths, of which at least two-thirds are opioid-related overdoses, are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Accidental drug overdose deaths, predominantly from opioids, exceed the number of deaths caused by car wrecks or guns. The economic burden caused by opioid abuse in the United States is approximately $78.5 billion, including lost productivity and increased social services, health insurance costs, increased criminal justice presence and strain on judicial resources, and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Opioid manufacturing and distributing companies systematically and repeatedly disregarded the health and safety of their customers and the public. Charged by law to monitor and report dangerous behavior, they failed to do so in favor of maximizing corporate profits and increasing their market share.
The Complaint further alleges that no medical breakthrough or newly-discovered treatment path justified Defendants’ overweening prescription of opioids for chronic pain, but rather that their inflated marketing and sales goals opened the floodgates for expanded opioid use and rampant abuse. “Defendants falsely and misleadingly, and contrary to the language of their drugs’ labels: (1) downplayed the serious risk of addiction; (2) promoted the concept of “pseudoaddiction” and thus advocated that the signs of addiction should be treated with more opioids; (3) exaggerated the effectiveness of screening tools in preventing addiction; (4) claimed that opioid dependence and withdrawal are easily managed; (5) denied the risks of higher opioid dosages; and (6) exaggerated the effectiveness of “abuse-deterrent” opioid formulations to prevent abuse and addiction. Conversely, Defendants also falsely touted the benefits of long-term opioid use, including the supposed ability of opioids to improve function and quality of life, even though there was no good scientific evidence to support Defendants’ claims.”
Relief Sought in Scott County’s Opioids Lawsuit
Scott County alleges claims for racketeering, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, public nuisance, negligence, and unjust enrichment, and seeks all legal and equitable relief as allowed by law under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) and Tennessee statutory and common law. The Complaint seeks repayment of costs associated with the opioid epidemic in Scott County, including actual damages, treble damages, equitable relief, forfeiture as deemed proper by the Court, attorney’s fees and all costs and expenses of suit and pre- and post-judgment interest.
About Lieff Cabraser
Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer and as a “Plaintiffs’ Powerhouse” by Law360, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a 70-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, Nashville, and Seattle. Lieff Cabraser has filed similar cases on behalf of Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Nashville) and Smith County, Tennessee, and represents other counties and cities within Tennessee and outside of Tennessee in opioids-related litigation. Our firm has successfully represented tens of thousands of injured individuals in complex and mass tort litigation, and thousands of patients across America in individual lawsuits over the injuries they suffered from defective prescription drugs. Five times in the last seven years, U.S. News and Best Lawyershave named Lieff Cabraser as their “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts.
About Taylor & Knight
Recognized as one of the “Best Law Firms in Tennessee” by the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, Taylor & Knight, GP is a comprehensive litigation firm based in Knoxville, Tennessee that concentrates on trial and appellate practice in state and federal court, as well as administrative and mediation proceedings. A substantial portion of Taylor & Knight’s practice is devoted to representing governmental entities such as counties, municipalities, school districts, sheriff’s departments, emergency medical services, and utility districts as well as those entities’ employees, managers, controlling boards, bodies and officials in all areas of governmental liability across East Tennessee. More specifically, Taylor & Knight has had the distinct privilege and honor of successfully defending Scott County, Tennessee and its employees and elected officials in a number of important lawsuits in state and federal courts over the last decade.