Tarrant County has joined other counties in Texas and some states in filing lawsuits against prescription painkiller manufacturers and distributers for their role in an opioid addiction epidemic across the nation.
Tarrant County commissioners voted at their most recent meeting to authorize the office of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney to hire the Lanier Law Firm of Houston as outside counsel in the lawsuit.
Samantha Jordan, the communications officer for the district attorney’s office, said the as-yet unfiled lawsuit will be similar to the suits filed by Dallas, Bowie, Upshur and other Texas counties, targeted at recovering the costs to this county of the criminal and health issues caused by the widespread abuse of the drugs.
The Lanier Law Firm bills itself on its website as “a pioneer in its involvement in numerous pharmaceutical liability litigations, with an extremely successful track record.”
It was selected by the Kentucky law firm Morgan & Morgan to assist in a lawsuit on behalf of the Kentucky Attorney General’s to lead litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors, dispensers and other groups who allegedly caused or contributed to the opioid crisis in Kentucky.
Morgan & Morgan said in a news release that the Kentucky request for proposal was based in part on previous litigation experience against McKesson Corp., the largest prescription drug distributor in the U.S. Morgan & Morgan currently represents 15 counties and cities in West Virginia against McKesson and other pharmaceutical wholesalers. The news release called Mark Lanier “one of the most successful trial attorneys in America.”
The Texas Tribune reported in October that the first county to sue in Texas was Upshur County. Defendants in the Upshur County challenge, filed in U.S. district court in Marshall, include: Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson.
The Tribune also reported that in 2016, McKesson received a $9.75 million grant from the state’s Enterprise Fund to expand its operations in North Texas.
Texas and 40 other states are investigating companies that manufacture or sell opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and so have sales of the prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
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