Montgomery County plans to file a lawsuit against opioid manufactures and distributors as a way to take a stand against rising rates of opioid addiction, County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said Monday.
“I think next week, I’m announcing full steam ahead on a lawsuit against a number of manufacturers and distributors who have provided drugs not only in Montgomery County but throughout this nation, so I’m taking them to court,” Leggett said, while speaking at a budget forum in Germantown.
While almost all of Leggett’s time at the event was dedicated to talking about the budget, the County Executive announced the County’s forthcoming lawsuit in response to a question from a resident about the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Leggett’s announcement, however, is not a surprise, as he announced in December that the County had hired an outside law firm – San Francisco based Robbins Geller and Dowd – to help file suit against opioid manufactures. Leggett’s statement came as an impromptu, unofficial announcement of the pending lawsuit, which will be officially announced during a news conference Feb. 7.
“I think that what you described is a real crisis for us in Montgomery County,” Leggett said in response to a question about the opioid epidemic. “The resources that have been expended, the challenges are quite, quite severe in the County.”
Aelish Baig, an attorney from Robbins Geller who will represent the County in the lawsuit named Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Cardinal Health and Janssen Pharmaceuticals as opioid manufactures and distributors that will likely be listed in the County’s lawsuit.
“We anticipate filing a very comprehensive complaint against potentially eight or nine manufactures and distributors,” Baig said. “We have done a fair amount of that investigation already. We are just completing that investigation now and once it’s completed and, you know, be prepared to file.”
Montgomery County joins other jurisdictions across the country that have filed similar lawsuits against opioid manufactures and distributors such as Ohio, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona and Illinois. Leggett said opioid addiction has put severe cost on the County, namely police, fire and rescue, and health and human services, and that the lawsuit is a way for the County to be compensated for increased expenses related to the crisis.
The County is not the first to bring attention to the opioid crisis. In May, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared a “state of emergency” in response to an opioid addiction crisis in the state. In the speech, Hogan announced the state would spend an additional $50 million over the next five years to combat the crisis through prevention and treatment.