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Minnesota counties, cities joining rush of lawsuits against opioid producers

Several of Minnesota’s largest counties and cities are on the verge of joining a national wave of government lawsuits targeting pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for the public cost of the opioid crisis.

Commissioners of at least a half dozen county boards authorized their attorneys this month to enter into agreements with private law firms to either sue or consider litigation, including Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis, Chisago, Mower and Steele counties. On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council decided to file suit. St. Paul also plans to do so, a mayoral spokesman said.

They are joining scores of county and local governments throughout the country alleging manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids are largely responsible for an epidemic of dangerous addiction that has caused thousands of deaths and strained public resources.

“The county attorneys are trying to figure out how, collectively, we can be responsible and be aggressive about supporting folks in our communities against this opiate crisis,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who said his county’s board discussed the issue in a closed legal briefing earlier this month. “We’re all trying to unite together to quietly but forcefully say ‘Enough is enough.’ They’ve got to stop this crap.”

With a federal hearing on such litigation scheduled for the end of the month, some Minnesota counties and municipalities are scrambling to consider filing suit before then. Freeman and other attorneys expect a substantial portion of the state’s 87 counties will eventually sue.

Source: Star Tribune

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