Decatur County Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

| March 18, 2018

Blasingame, Burch, Garrard, & Ashley, P.C Press Release

ATHENS, Ga. – Decatur County filed a lawsuit against multiple manufacturers and distributors of opioids, seeking to hold them responsible for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. The county is represented by Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. (BBGA), of Athens.

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 Decatur 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, Jeff Davis County, Sumter County, Oglethorpe County, Hall County, Cook County, Madison County, Irwin County, Walton County, and Banks County. The suits are among the first in Georgia seeking restitution for the millions of dollars spent fighting the opioid crisis.

BBGA continues to lead the way statewide in the filing of opioid lawsuits, with more Georgia filings than any other firm. The litigation team expects to file similar lawsuits in the coming weeks on behalf of many other Georgia cities, counties and hospitals.

“We’ve made presentations to dozens of local governments across Georgia and anticipate presenting to many more,” Matthews said. “We have extensive experience in multi-district litigation (MDL) and are pleased to continue filing for counties.”

BBGA is nationally recognized in MDL litigation in Georgia and across the country. The Athens-based firm has been lead counsel or co-lead counsel in at least five national MDL proceedings and currently represents the State of California in two major drug price-gouging cases. The firm’s MDL experience spans across multiple complex MDL cases, including transvaginal mesh, talcum powder, and hernia mesh cases.

“What distinguishes us from the other law firms involved in opioid litigation is, we are a Georgia law firm that will be lead counsel in representing our clients,” said firm partner Andrew Hill. “We are not associated with out-of- state counsel in the handling of our clients’ business, and we file the lawsuits in their local jurisdictions.”

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