The state’s new lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors is unlikely to affect the suit filed last year by Rome, Floyd County and other Northwest Georgia municipalities.
Andy Davis of Brinson, Askew, Berry, et al, in Rome is one of the lead attorneys in the regional case, which is part of a multi-jurisdictional lawsuit being handled by a federal district court judge in Ohio. Davis said a number of states have already entered the fray.
“It’s very clear that the cities and counties all across the country have positioned themselves to have a say in how the resolution may happen,” he said.
Local governments, and now Georgia, are accusing the companies of fueling the opioid crisis with devastating effects on residents.
Attorney General Chris Carr announced in a news release that he filed the lawsuit Thursday in Gwinnett County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks damages and restitution against five manufacturers and their associated companies, as well as four distributors
Davis said he’s ultimately expecting a “national resolution” based on the federal court’s rulings in selected bellwether cases. The defendants, he noted, will want to be sure it addresses every outstanding suit against them.
“Unlike the tobacco cases where the attorneys general took charge, the cities and counties are not going to have to worry about (being left out),” he said.
The Rome City and Floyd County commissions are hoping to get funding to address the local crisis through various programs and initiatives they’re working to formulate now.
The lawsuits allege that the manufacturers used deceptive marketing that understated the addiction risks of opioids and overstated benefits to increase opioid use and increase their profits.
They also accuse the distributors of selling prescription opioids without monitoring, reporting, investigating or preventing the fulfillment of suspicious orders, leading to the drugs being sold for unnecessary and non-medical uses.
In Floyd County, prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine were issued at a rate of 153.3 for every 100 residents in 2016, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
Cartersville and the counties of Chattooga and Whitfield are also part of the regional suit, which was filed in March 2018 by a group of lawyers that includes Davis and Rome attorney Bob Finnell. Polk County joined another group of municipalities in a suit filed by Cedartown law firm Parker and Lundy.
Staff writer Diane Wagner contributed to this report.