The opioid epidemic has reached historic heights, claiming thousands of lives in Georgia each year. Every city and county in the State of Georgia has been affected. So too have the county and municipal budgets. While the distributors and manufacturers of opioids (such as oxycodone) have profited off of the addiction crisis, the counties and cities in Georgia have been forced to pick up the pieces of overdose victims and their families.
“It’s hard to imagine an aspect of city and county budgets that hasn’t been affected in one way or another by the opioid crisis,” said Haynes Studstill, partner in the Studstill Firm and one of the attorneys handling the opioid litigation. In order to stem the tide on this epidemic, the Studstill Firm is filing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the proliferation of the opioid industry. The claims include misleading and deceptive advertising and marketing methods used by large pharmaceutical companies that initially claimed their opiates were safe and non-addictive, as well as claims for public nuisance.
Several County Boards of Commissioners in South Georgia as well as several Municipal governments have decided to file claims in the opioid litigation and have selected Studstill Firm, LLP and our Valdosta attorneys to represent them. The litigation is being handled on a contingency fee agreement, which means the county and city governments will not have to pay anything out of their budgets for the litigation. Instead, the legal fees are paid if and when there is a recovery or settlement for the counties and cities. This makes the litigation a very low risk for the county and municipal governments to get involved and allows them the opportunity to pursue justice without having to worry about placing a financial strain on its taxpayers and constituents.
As it stands now, the civil suits will likely be filed in federal court so that they will be consolidated with other similar cases as part of the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District Court in Ohio. MDL litigation is advantageous in these types of cases as it allows for common discovery that would ordinarily be difficult and burdensome for individual cases.
For the Georgia counties and municipalities that wait too long to act and miss out on the opportunity to be involved in the MDL, they may be lumped into a statewide complaint (if one is filed), which may distribute any settlement funds robotically and without consideration to actual deserved damages. Furthermore, such a situation would remove control from each county and plaintiff, putting the entirety of the case responsibility and decisions concerning how much money should be allocated to a particular county to be chosen by the state.