The City Attorney’s Office for the City of Prescott released the following statement related to the City of Prescott filing a state court lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opiates.
“Yesterday, the City of Prescott filed a lawsuit in Yavapai County Superior Court seeking redress for the societal and financial harm it has suffered at the hands of those directly responsible for the opioid crisis — the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. The City is seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief for the City from the manufacturers and distributors of opiates.
As every Prescott resident knows, our community has been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the opioid crisis plaguing our country today. By filing this lawsuit, the Mayor and the City Council are making it clear that our community will not simply acquiesce in the harms the people of Prescott have already suffered, and will continue to suffer, while the defendant manufacturers and distributors continue to profit from their sales and distribution of highly addictive drugs.
Prescott has retained, at no expense to the City or its taxpayers, a coalition of law firms to prosecute this action on its behalf. The litigation will be led locally by the Arizona firm of Fennemore Craig. Lead trial counsel will be the high-stakes litigation boutique law firm of Theodora Oringher PC. Theodora Oringher will be assisted by mass tort specialists, Andrews & Thornton.
The City of Prescott is filing in Yavapai County Superior Court, instead of in the federal courts in Cleveland, because the case is rooted in Arizona state law, and because the City believes it is important that an Arizona jury and judge decide the facts that are unique to Prescott. The filing alleges the following:
- Each of the Defendants in this action engaged in an industry-wide effort to downplay the dangerous and deadly potential effects of the misuse of prescription opioids. Simply put, these Defendants put their desire for profits above the health and well-being of Prescott’s residents. Prescott and its citizens have paid dearly as a result.
- The Manufacturer Defendants engaged in a scheme designed to increase the number of opioid prescriptions written across the state of Arizona, specifically in Prescott. The Defendants’ scheme was particularly well-suited to Prescott because it is home to a multitude of economically and medically vulnerable populations that Defendants knew were uniquely predisposed to opioid addiction, including the elderly and veterans.
- These Defendants succeeded in dramatically increasing the number of opioid prescriptions written in Prescott by (1) affirmatively concealing the truth about the risk of addiction and death associated with long-term use of their products, and (2) pressuring their respective sales forces to deceive (and bribe) local physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioner prescribers to flood Arizona—and Prescott—with far more opioid prescriptions than were medically necessary.
- The Distributor Defendants shipped prescription opioids throughout the country, including to addresses in Prescott. Rather than meet their obligations under Arizona law to report suspicious orders of opioids, these Defendants willfully ignored impossibly large orders shipped into Prescott and across Arizona. They failed to report any suspicious shipments despite being under clear statutory and common law obligations to do so, and in contravention of their own internal policies and procedures. The Distributor Defendants’ breaches of their respective reporting obligations were willful, motivated entirely by their desire to maximize profits by any means necessary, and were committed without consideration of the cost to Prescott or its citizens.
A link to the filing may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2IEDvPP
Residents of Prescott and Yavapai County are well aware of the harm we have suffered and the numerous steps the City has undertaken to mitigate that harm. The City has made great strides in its efforts to combat the opioid crisis but has suffered a tremendous financial burden in the process. And the costs will keep coming for at least another generation. It is therefore time to seek relief directly from those who created this crisis to ease the burden on Prescott’s coffers and taxpayers that they have been forced to shoulder due to the malfeasance of the opioid manufacturers and distributors.”