In the latest fight against the opioid epidemic, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced on Friday the county will file a civil lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors.
"This epidemic did not occur by accident. Manufacturers of opioid prescription drugs marketed pills fraudulently without disclosing the risks of addiction, which they knew existed," said Budish during a press conference.
The announcement of the lawsuit comes a day after President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, a declaration different from his broader announcement a few months ago. By declaring it a public health emergency, federal agencies will provide more grant money to combat the epidemic.
"In fact, they affirmatively misrepresented the risks and distributors with knowledge of excessive sales of these dangerously addictive drugs failed to report these sales to the government as required by law," Budish said.
The decision to file a lawsuit was made jointly by Budish and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O' Malley. The lawsuit filed by the county targets the distributors and the manufacturers, unlike the state filed lawsuit, which only goes after manufacturers.
"One thing that is clear is that if we are waiting for help from Washington, it is not coming," O'Malley said. "If we are waiting for help from Columbus, it is not coming. It is time for Cuyahoga County to act on its own, to protect our citizens and to help those who addicted to this deadly disease."
The lawsuit will be represented in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
O' Malley was clear to emphasize the lawsuit will stop what is occurring but it will help the county deal with the effects of the opioid epidemic.
The civil lawsuit will be filed under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and under the Ohio Deceptive Practices Act, along with other common law theories of liability to pursue manufacturers and distributors for money expended by the county.
"It is now the end of the county paying for those services and it is time for the dealers of these opioids to pay for this crisis," said Paul Napoli, of Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC.