Like so many communities across the country, Kalamazoo County has been hit hard by the drug-related deaths, treatment, and law enforcement costs associated with our nation’s opioid crisis. And like several other Michigan municipalities, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners recently approved a decision to have Sommers Schwartz, along with a consortium of national firms, represent the county in a federal class-action lawsuit seeking damages from opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Opioid Epidemic Facts
According to a November 2017 report, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the financial burden of the U.S. opioid crisis was $504 billion in 2015. As reported on mlive.com, the synthetic opioid Fentanyl contributed to the deaths of more than half of the individuals in Kalamazoo County who accidentally overdosed in 2017, and the number of drug-related deaths in the county last year was just one fewer than the seven-year high reported in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of retail opioid prescriptions in the country remains above the national average.
Beyond the opioid manufacturers, there are other players in the supply chain, including key distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmerisourceBergen. Together, these companies control 85 percent of the prescription painkiller market, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and other federal agencies have accused them of being complicit in creating excessive supplies of opioids in communities throughout the country.
Sommers Schwartz’s Role in the Michigan Opioid Litigation
The attorneys on Sommers Schwartz’s Mass Tort and Class Action litigation teams are well known and well respected for their success mass tort, multidistrict, and class action litigation. The firm has joined a consortium of other prestigious law firms to obtain damages from the major drug distributors that have placed an undue financial hardship on local governments in Michigan.
To date, the following townships, cities, and counties have also engaged Sommers Schwartz to represent them in lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers:
- Branch County
- Clinton Township
- Eaton County
- Huron Township
- Kalamazoo County
- Muskegon County
- Northville Township
- Van Buren Township
To learn more about the economic costs incurred by Michigan communities and allegations made against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the U.S. opioid crisis, please watch the following video featuring Sommers Schwartz shareholders Lisa Esser, Robert Sickels, and Jason Thompson. Associate Parker Stinar has also been involved in this important litigation.