Thursday, January 18, 2018
Mayor Domenic Sarno announced today that, in the City’s continuing efforts to combat the opioid crisis, the City has retained the services of Scott+Scott, Attorneys at Law, LLP (“Scott+Scott”) to represent it in litigation against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors whose conduct has proximately caused and fueled the opioid epidemic. Scott+Scott currently represents a number of municipalities in Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida, and counties in Pennsylvania in suits against companies such as Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Insys Therapeutics. The suits also name a number of wholesale distributors, including McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Cardinal Health.
As the fourth largest City in New England, Springfield has expended substantial resources related to multiple types of services related to opioid addition. Through the impending lawsuit Springfield will seek to recoup the crippling cost that opioid addiction has caused the local government and to hold the culpable parties responsible to assist in the abatement of the public nuisance they created.
Springfield is joining the ranks of hundreds of other governmental entities across the country seeking to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their unlawful conduct by systematically working to deceive doctors and patients – including vulnerable groups such as the elderly and war veterans – about the highly addictive nature of prescription opioids and the appropriateness of these drugs for chronic pain management.
“I am told that approximately 80% of current heroin users got their start with prescription opioids. Massachusetts has been experiencing a heroin overdose outbreak, clothed in a pharmaceutical opioid epidemic. The opioid-related death rate in Massachusetts has surpassed the national average, with an especially sharp rise in the last two years, raising the costs of treatment and social services for years to come,” Mayor Sarno stated.
The Mayor added, “The flood of opioids pushed into the City has strained virtually every service in the City, from public safety, as well as the care for youth, elderly and the needy. The damage inflicted by the opioid crisis to Springfield’s most precious resource, its residents, has been tremendous and will take a huge effort to repair.”
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there have been 932 confirmed opioid-related deaths in the State of Massachusetts for the first nine months of 2017 alone. (See Number of Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths, All Intents by City/Town, MA Residents 2012-2016, Massachusetts Department Of Public Health (Nov. 2017), https://www.mass.gov/lists/current-opioid-statistics).
While addressing the magnitude of the opioid epidemic in Springfield and announcing his own change in attitude toward the City’s considering syringe access services designed to mitigate harm and rehabilitate lives, Mayor Sarno stated, “Many of us have been affected, whether through friends or family members directly or indirectly with the negative wrath of health and public safety issues . . . this opioid crisis has destroyed lives and relationships.”
“The pharmaceutical industry is responsible for one of the most tragic epidemics facing cities like Springfield. Our firm works with municipalities across the country suffering under the weight of the industry’s actions, and few more starkly illustrate the need for justice than Springfield. In addition to the first responders and municipal employees needed to address overdoses and deaths, Springfield will incur residual costs for years to come as patients who were deceived by the industry struggle with addiction, or turn to other more dangerous analogues,” said David Scott, managing partner of Scott+Scott.
City Solicitor Edward M. Pikula stated that the City considered proposals from different law firms from throughout the country. “The complex litigation expertise, financial resources, and technological capabilities of Scott+Scott make the firm uniquely qualified to deliver to Springfield legal services required considering the scope and volume that this important litigation against pharmaceutical conglomerates requires.”