Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs has been selected to represent Harris County in a federal civil lawsuit against the opioid industry. The County, which will also be represented by the law firms of Dan Downy and The Gallagher Law Firm, authorized legal action in October.
According to the Harris County Commissioners Court, the lawsuit will seek what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from major pharmaceutical companies due to improper marketing, sale, and distribution of opioid medications. This is a considerable undertaking for the largest county in Texas, and other major counties across the state, some of which our firm will also represent, are also preparing to take action against the industry.
Harris County’s pending civil action mirrors others that have been filed against the $13 billion a year opioid industry. In the past year alone, over 25 cities, counties, and states have filed federal lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, distributors, retailers, and others that push highly addictive narcotics onto the market at the expense of public safety, and to the detriment of families and local governments that bear the burden.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic through the Civil Justice System
America’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions, and now accounts for roughly 90 deaths each day. In addition to being a considerable public health crisis, opioid addiction and overdose places significant strain upon local cities, counties, and states that must marshal the resources to deal with its impact on social and economic welfare, law enforcement, corrections, and health care. As was the case with lawsuits waged against the Tobacco industry in the early 1990s, local and state governments are turning to the civil justice system to recover their losses.
Civil lawsuits are a powerful tool allowing those who have suffered harm and injustices to make their voices heard, and they play a significant role in providing a catalyst for needed change. Over the years, addiction to opioid medications has proliferated across the country, and has wreaked devastation among millions of individuals and families. While there are various contributing factors at work, including medical professionals who negligently prescribe painkillers, the pharmaceutical industry’s prioritization of profits over people has been the most concerning.
According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of prescriptions for opioid medications nearly quadrupled since 1999. With a correlating increase in addiction, crime, incarceration, and death, families and advocates have targeted the pharmaceutical companies as one of the primary culprits. In many lawsuits that have been filed, attorneys general and others are asking courts to hold the pharmaceutical companies who aggressively marketed the drugs and downplayed their addictive nature to be held legally responsible for the crisis, as well as the financial consequences it has created. Harris County’s lawsuit will also seek accountability through the legal system.
Our legal team at Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs is proud to have been selected as one of three law firms to represent Harris County in such a significant legal endeavor – one that has the potential to contribute to substantial change, stem the rising toll of opioids, and protect the public. In addition to Harris County, one of the largest counties in the country, we have been selected as counsel for a number of other counties as well. We are thankful for the trust local officials and residents have placed in our team, and look to harness the power of the civil justice system in their fight for justice, just as we do for all clients who come to our firm following injuries and losses.