COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - The City of Covington has filed a lawsuit against America's pharmaceutical industry, alleging it contributed to the opioid crisis.
The city joins a number of jurisdictions filing similar lawsuits.
There are currently hundreds of suits filed across the nation against the opioid manufacturers and distributors which have been aggregated in a multi-district litigation proceeding in Cleveland, Ohio. On May 10, the U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is reviewing these cases held a day of open-door conferences and settlement discussions with the various attorneys and state Attorney Generals.
"We hope suits like ours will convince the Judge that a formula litigation settlement, like in the historic tobacco cases,should be rejected. Instead of funds going to state government for distribution, we would much rather see funds directed to those on the front lines of treatment, need and service," said Attorney Bill Lozes.
The city said manufacturers and distributors knew the prescription drugs were highly addictive, but pushed them anyway.
Within the last year St. Tammany Parish saw an outbreak of heroin related deaths. Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz has joined other police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country at the White House to give a local face to the problem, since death overdoses now out-pace car-related deaths 2-to-1.
"Our law enforcement and criminal justice system is on the front line of dealing with the opioid crisis, which is impacting families from every spectrum of our society, and in our community," said Mayor Cooper. "We seek to recover some of the extensive costs that the City has already incurred in dealing with this rampant problem and to secure additional funds so that the City can create and maintain treatment programs to provide rehabilitation to those with opioid addiction problems."
The lawsuits also focus on the distributors' violation of the Controlled Substances Act by their failing to report unusual patterns associated with certain opioid purchases and use. Covington's attorneys point to the fact that there have been on-the-record admissions of wrongdoing by some of the defendant manufacturers and distributors of opioids.
A number of these target defendants have pled guilty to criminal violations and/or paid massive fines to settle charges or claims against them.
Covington said its lawsuit focuses on finding long-term solutions.