How Texas Is Using the Courts to Fight the Opioid Crisis
When attempting to identify the underlying causes of America’s nation-wide opioid epidemic, it is impossible not to mention the role of manufacturers and distributors in creating this monster. Yet, throughout the growing crisis, these multi-billion-dollar companies have been able to avoid any serious accountability, and not only that, but they’ve also received in record profits to the tune of many millions of dollars in the meantime.
This lack of accountability may finally be beginning to change though, as hundreds of lawsuits are being filed all across the country, including right here in Texas, which are directed across the entire supply chain.
This opioid crisis not only impacts the individuals and families that have had their lives destroyed by these dangerous and highly addictive drugs, but they also touch virtually every aspect of life across Texas.
Previously, it was really only the big cities in the U.S. that dealt with the ramifications of drug addiction and all that it entails, however the opioid epidemic has affected many small and rural communities equally, perhaps even more so than big cities. In turn, this has pushed public resources and taxpayer dollars to the limit, in almost every way imaginable.
The foster care system has become overwhelmed caring for the children of addicts or incarcerated drug offenders. Law enforcement budgets and resources are stretched thin as they grapple with addicts and the ensuing crime. Morgues have literally had bodies stacked to capacity from overdose deaths. Purchasing drugs, which are used to reverse overdoses, has stretched county budgets. Health care costs and capacity are reaching breaking points, and first responders are working overtime as they respond to the crisis.
The toll of the opioid crisis has been staggeringly large. The White House Council of Economic Advisers has estimated the economic cost to be more than $500 billion per year, representing nearly 3% of the gross domestic product.
The mounting legal claims have been tied together in what is known as multidistrict litigation (MDL), involving hundreds of cities, counties, tribes, labor unions, and hospitals across the country. But some local governments, like Harris County, have chosen to remain apart from the MDL, arguing that the effects of the opioid crisis were felt in Houston and the surrounding area, and the outcome of any litigation should be decided by local judges, juries, and the like. In any case, the growing legal wave has been compared to the fight against big tobacco, which was also in the business of deploying deceptive or manipulative advertising while creating a public health epidemic and getting rich in the process. While no one can deny the widespread damage caused by tobacco, one could certainly argue that the opioid epidemic has had much graver consequences.
While these lawsuits will not restore the damage already done to millions of families, nor will it solve the lingering budget woes faced by state and local governments that have been battling this scourge for years, it may be the most important step to finally containing and controlling this growing epidemic and to help prevent future damage.
The team at Fears Nachawati is dedicated to helping right these injustices which have destroyed families and crippled small communities. The toll of the opioid epidemic has been weighing too heavily, and for far too long, but forecasts only predict that things will get worse if actions are not taken.
If you represent a public entity struggling under the weight of the opioid epidemic, then please contact our Opioid Rapid Response team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling (214) 461-6231.