Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, PC Press Release:
ATHENS, Ga. – Five new Georgia counties emerged this week with lawsuits against multiple manufacturers and distributors of opioids.
Hall County, Cook County, Madison County, Irwin County, and Walton County have now joined forces with Athens-Clarke County, Candler County, The Candler County Hospital Authority, Oconee County, Crisp County, Jeff Davis County, Sumter County, and Oglethorpe County, in a wave of lawsuits aimed at holding opioids manufacturers and distributers responsible for their role in causing the current opioid epidemic.
The local governments are represented by Athens law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. (BBGA). Oglethorpe County is also represented by Atkinson Ferguson, LLC, of Monroe; Hall County by Hasty Pope, LLP, of Gainesville; and Madison County by Daniel Haygood, of Watkinsville. Clark & Smith Law Firm, LLC, of Macon; and Troy A. Lanier, P.C., of Augusta are also involved in certain representations.
BBGA continues to lead the way statewide in the filing of opioid lawsuits, with more Georgia filings than any other firm. The litigation team expects to file similar lawsuits in the coming weeks on behalf of many other Georgia cities, counties and hospitals.
“We’ve made presentations to dozens of local governments across Georgia and anticipate presenting to many more,” BBGA partner Jim Matthews said. “We have extensive experience in multi-district litigation (MDL) and are pleased to continue filing for counties.”
BBGA is nationally recognized in MDL litigation in Georgia and across the country. The Athens-based firm has been lead counsel or co-lead counsel in at least five national MDL proceedings and currently represents the State of California in two major drug price-gouging cases. The firm’s MDL experience spans across multiple complex MDL cases, including transvaginal mesh, talcum powder, and hernia mesh cases.
“What distinguishes us from the other law firms involved in opioid litigation is, we are a Georgia law firm that will be lead counsel in representing our clients,” said firm partner Andrew Hill. “We are not associated with out-of- state counsel in the handling of our clients’ business, and we file the lawsuits in their local jurisdictions.”
The opioids lawsuits target more than 20 companies that manufacture and distribute opioids, and alleges the defendants misrepresented the addictive risks of opioids, fraudulently marketed opioids as a treatment for chronic pain, and did not follow federal laws regarding the reporting of excessive opioid sales in certain areas.
The cases are expected to be transferred to the national multi-district litigation in Ohio regarding the opioid epidemic, where more than 400 are currently pending. The complaints allege that plaintiffs filed the lawsuits to “eliminate the hazard to public health and safety caused by the opioid epidemic, to abate the nuisance caused thereby, and to recoup monies that have been spent, or will be spent, because of Defendants’ false, deceptive and unfair marketing and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioids.”
The lawsuits name manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan PLC, and Actavis. Distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen are also named as defendants.
“We believe it will be established that these drug companies deliberately set out to addict millions of people to opioids,” Matthews said. “This is a crisis with a profound impact in the State of Georgia.”