As part of an ongoing effort to confront prescription drug abuse in Virginia, Wagstaff and Cartmell, LLP has recently joined forces with a team of local and international lawyers to sue major prescription drug manufacturers and distributors on behalf of Smyth, Wythe and Russel counties in southwest Virginia. Taxpayers have lost millions of dollars each year due to drug abuse, and attorneys representing the counties claim that the companies are to blame for the negligent prescribing and distribution of opioid medications to a vulnerable population.
“We want to be able to recover compensation for our communities and our counties that have suffered these tremendous losses because of the increased incarcerations and the increased law enforcement presence, social services, medical, and the list just goes on and on,” said Virginia Senator Ben Chafin, one of the lawyers who has agreed to represent this case.
Local and National Calls-to-Action
In addition to Senator Ben Chafin, Virginia Delegate Jeff Campbell and Attorney Kimberly C. Haugh of Abingdon, VA have also taken on the case to help their fellow Virginians receive compensation for their losses. At the national level, Wagstaff and Cartmell, LLP of Kansas City, as well as Dumas Law Firm, LLC of Mobile, AL are also joining in the litigation.
Each of the individual counties are expected to prepare their own unique and individual filings, and attorneys expect that additional southwest Virginia counties will seek representation as evidence for the case grows.
“There are a number of other counties throughout southwest Virginia who we have appeared at board meetings and given a presentation for. We understand they are currently in the process of choosing representation, so we expect we will be representing a large number of counties in southwest Virginia, Chafin said.
What Happens Next?
Specific defendants have not yet been named in the case yet, but it is thought that they will be major prescription drug manufacturers and distributors. Attorneys predict that the cases in Virginia will likely be involved in the multi-jurisdictional litigation suits currently being heard in Cleveland, OH. The Virginia cases are expected to be filed to the U.S. District Court in Abingdon, VA during the week of May 15, 2018.
“We will have to build an economic model and we have hired preeminent economists nationwide to [build it]. It will be unique to the individual county, but I can fairly safely tell you we’re talking additional millions of dollars per year in lost revenue addressing the impact as a result of the opioid crisis,” Jeff Campbell said.
How the cases in Virginia will play out in comparison to the Ohio cases—and other similar cases that may begin litigation across the country—remains yet to be seen. Considering our past history of representing mass tort drug cases at the national level, we hope that the additional expertise our colleagues bring to the Virginia cases will ensure that thousands of Virginia citizens are awarded the justice and resources they rightfully deserve.