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Sumter County files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

ATHENS — Sumter County has filed a lawsuit against multiple manufacturers and distributors of opioids, seeking to hold them responsible for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. The lawsuit is believed to be the eighth filed by a Georgia county. Sumter County is represented by Athens law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley (BBGA).
The lawsuit targets more than 20 companies that manufacture and distribute opioids, and alleges the defendants misrepresented the addictive risks of opioids, fraudulently marketed opioids as a treatment for chronic pain, and did not follow federal laws regarding the reporting of excessive opioid sales in certain areas.
The case was filed in federal court and is expected to be transferred to the national multi-district litigation in Ohio regarding the opioid epidemic, where more than 400 are currently pending. The complaint alleges that Sumter County filed the lawsuit to “eliminate the hazard to public health and safety caused by the opioid epidemic, to abate the nuisance caused thereby, and to recoup monies that have been spent, or will be spent, because of Defendants’ false, deceptive and unfair marketing and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioids.”
“With this lawsuit, we hope to help stop the opioid epidemic and secure the resources that local governments need to combat it,” BBGA partner Jim Matthews said.
The lawsuit targets manufacturers including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan PLC, and Actavis. Distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen are also named as defendants.
BBGA has filed lawsuits on behalf of Candler County, Candler County Hospital Authority, Athens-Clarke County, Oconee County, Crisp County, and Jeff Davis County. The suits are among the first in Georgia seeking restitution for the millions of dollars spent fighting the opioid crisis.
The firm expects to file similar lawsuits in the coming weeks on behalf of other Georgia counties and hospitals.