Knox County and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska filed a lawsuit against more
than two dozen opiate manufacturers and distributors.
The two groups are represented by attorney David Domina, who commented
that he would be surprised if more cases like this aren’t filed
throughout Nebraska by groups looking to recover the expenses brought
on by the opiate epidemic consuming America.
"The United States faces a public health crisis arising from the profligate
manufacturing, distribution, permissive and knowing diversion, and abuse
of opioids and opioid medications. An opioid addiction epidemic has resulted,"
Domina filed the lawsuits in the United States District Court in Omaha
on Wednesday, April 25. These lawsuits specifically target 25 companies
and allege that each used unfair, false, or deceptive marketing practices
to contribute to the epidemic. In a
phone interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, Domina described it as the worst public health epidemic since the plague.
"And this one is the product of greed," Domina said, and has
to be stopped by human behavior changing, not an anecdote.
He said that companies like Purdue Pharma Inc., CVS, Walgreens, McKesson
Corp. and others used their staggering profits to pay civil fines for
wrongdoing and influence key opinion leaders as if those transactions
were just normal costs of doing business.
These lawsuits are just a small portion of the hundreds of their kind filed
across the country. United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated
earlier this year that the Justice Department was planning to file a statement
of interest in the multidistrict action in response to these lawsuits.
"It has cost this nation hundreds of thousands of precious lives,"
Sessions said in a statement Feb. 27. "It has strained our public
health and law enforcement resources and bankrupted countless families
across this country."
Domina believes that his clients’ cases will likely end up being
transferred into that action for discovery, but that the trial will ultimately
return to Nebraska. He believes that Nebraska counties and cities could
find themselves left out of a larger settlement because of the state’s
mortality rate compared to other states’, but that the local problem
is only getting worse.