The City of Terre Haute and Vigo County officially filed lawsuits this week against opioid distributors and manufacturers.
The city announced in November that it would pursue legal action because of the role those companies played in the opioid epidemic. Indianapolis-based law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister filed the lawsuits on behalf of both the city and county.
Terre Haute’s lawsuit only targets three opioid drug distributors: Cardinal Health Incorporated, the Mckesson Corporation, and Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation. The lawsuit for Vigo County names those same distributors, along with more than 10 opioid manufacturers.
Terre Haute City Attorney Eddie Felling says the city reserves the right to include manufacturers on the lawsuit later. He says the lawsuit is about holding companies responsible, but also recouping costs for the community.
“It is important that we recover dollars because usually those are taxpayer dollars and we want to make sure our taxpayers aren’t hurt,” he says.
Chou-il Lee is a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister. He says his firm is part of a national consortium, which will represent municipalities with similar complaints in a multi-district litigation. Lee says grouping cases together will allow for consistency in rulings.
“All the claims are basically going to be the same for all the municipalities bringing these actions, and the defendants are going to be the same for the municipalities bringing these actions,” he says.
Jennings County, Kokomo, Ft. Wayne, and Noblesville also filed similar lawsuits within the past week. The compiled lawsuits will be heard in the Northern District of Ohio, but it’s unclear when.
Almost 20 other Indiana municipalities are also pursuing legal action against major drug companies, including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Muncie.