Opioid lawsuit filed on behalf of Pittsburg County

KEVIN HARVISON | Staff photo

A kit containing an opioid reversal drug called naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan, is shown above. Attorneys acting on behalf of Pittsburg County commissioners have filed a lawsuit in Pittsburg County District Court seeking unspecified damages from defendant pharmaceutical and pharmacy companies in connection with the opioid crisis in the county, which is also being felt throughout Oklahoma and across the Unites States.

Attorneys have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pittsburg County commissioners seeking damages against 37 pharmaceutical companies and two Utah physicians in connection with the effects of the opioid crisis in the county.

"From 2012-2016, Pittsburg County had the 10th highest unintentional poisoning death rate in the state, with 38 of the 65 deaths involving at least one prescription opioid," attorneys allege in the lawsuit filed on the county's behalf.

Attorneys who filed the lawsuit in Pittsburg County District Court have requested a jury trial and are seeking unspecified damages.They are asking the court to:

• Enter judgment in favor of the Pittsburg County against each of the defendants and award the county actual damages;

• Order the defendants to compensate the county for future costs to abate the ongoing public nuisance caused by the opioid epidemic;

• Enter judgment against the defendants requiring them to pay punitive damages;

• Also, to enter judgement against the defendants awarding the county its reasonable attorney fees, all costs and expenses, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest; and

• All other relief the court may deem just and proper.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Pittsburg County commissioners by Alex Yaffe of the Fulmer Sill firm and the McAfee and Taft firm, both with offices in Oklahoma City. Representatives from the two firms met with the commissioners in recent months prior to the filing of the lawsuit.

Included in the lawsuit are a number of allegations, including:

"The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities across the United States, but particularly in Oklahoma, as a result of corporate greed," the lawsuit states in its opening sentence.

"In recent years, more and more resources have gone to battling the opioid epidemic as a direct result of the action of the defendants," the lawsuit continues.

"Pittsburg County also employs dozens of people and is responsible for funding a medical insurance plan for its employees and retirees," attorneys note in the court filing.

"Pittsburg County brings this action in its legal and sovereign capacity to protect the health, safety and welfare of all its residents."

Attorneys for the defendants named in the lawsuit will have an opportunity to file a response in district court to the allegations made in the lawsuit filed on the county's behalf.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com

Contact James Beaty by email at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

James Beaty is senior editor at the McAlester News-Capital