Strongsville is joining a growing list of communities fighting back against the opioid crisis by filing lawsuits against companies that manufacture and distribute drugs.
The lawsuit will take aim at companies that have created “a public nuisance to the citizens of our community through their massive sales and distribution of millions of doses of highly addictive, commonly abuses prescription painkillers,” Law Director Neal Jamison said.
“These companies have made substantial profits while fueling the prescription drug epidemic,” Jamison said.
Meanwhile, cities are left responding to an increasing number of overdose calls, and bearing the cost of providing police and paramedic services to handle them.
City Council voted unanimously March 19 to hire two firms – Climaco, Wilcox, Peca & Garofoli, a Cleveland law firm, and Napoli Shkolnik, a professional limited liability company in New York – to handle the litigation.
Similar suits have already been filed by other cities, including Broadview Heights, Brunswick, Parma and Cleveland. The suits are expected to be moved to federal court. The state of Ohio in February also sued four opioid distributors, alleging unsafe practices.
Strongsville’s suit, like most of the others, will seek an unspecified amount of compensation for its costs associated with the opioid epidemic.
The city will not pay legal fees to the firms it has hired unless it wins a monetary award from the suit. In that case, attorneys would receive a percentage of that money.
In August 2017, the Strongsville police and fire departments committed personnel to a two-pronged Community Opioid-Outreach Program to deal with the rising number of overdoses here. That includes a Quick Response Team made up of police officers, paramedics and others who visit the home of an overdose victim to help get them into treatment, and Safe Passages, a program in which a resident struggling with addiction can simply walk into the police station and ask for help.