Washington, Greene Commissioners Seek Legal Action Against Drug Manufacturers

On Thursday, 11/2, Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi and his fellow board members unanimously voted in favor of attacking the opioid problem at the source: the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs.

For Maggi, this was a new plan of attack in his career-long war on drugs. Maggi retired as a state trooper in 1998, but, before that, he would often spend his days making undercover purchases of illegal drugs, including the opioid, oxycodone.

Maggi and Commissioners Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan Shober plan to recover taxpayers’ costs associated with the opioid crisis by entering into an agreement with two law firms, Marc J. Bern and Partners, LLC, and Robert Peirce and Associates, PC, to represent the county. These firms will work for a 25 percent contingent fee if the county recovers money, according to the agreement.

“It’s not just about money; it’s about stopping the problem.” Maggi said in an Observer-Reporter article, “We discussed this with several firms and did our research over the course of several months.”

Attorney Robert Peirce Jr. said his firm will file a complaint in Washington County Court “any day now.”

Maggi noted in the same article that 75 percent of people at the Washington county jail are “in there for drug-related problems.”

“We’ve been incurring these costs for years because of the problem,” Maggi said. “We’re not trying to make a windfall profit.”

Peirce’s law firm filed a suit Wednesday on behalf of the Greene County commissioners in that county’s court asking for monetary relief from several prominent drug manufacturers for fighting the opioid epidemic.

The Greene commissioners indicated in mid-October they would sue the drug companies, joining other counties from across the country.

The Greene County lawsuit alleges pharmaceutical companies were aware of the addictive qualities of their prescription pain medication, and continued to push the drugs onto patients long after they had left the hospital.

The county spends millions of dollars each year fighting the epidemic, including $612,811 by the county drug and alcohol program to combat abuse in 2012.

The lawsuit alleges negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, deceptive practices, and public nuisance.

Opioids also affect the courts’ and Children and Youth Services agency’s clientele, those referred to drug and alcohol abuse counseling, infants born with drugs in their systems, and more than 75 percent of the people being supervised by the county’s adult and juvenile probation departments.

An 83-page complaint the Peirce firm filed on behalf of Beaver County enumerating ways that county has been significantly and negatively impacted due to the alleged misrepresentations and omissions by defendants regarding the appropriate uses and risks of opioids, ultimately leading to widespread inappropriate use of the drugs.

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