A lawsuit filed in April on behalf of Teamsters’ Health and Welfare Funds in Ohio and West Virginia demanded accountability for the opioid crisis by taking aim at a range of opioid drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy benefit companies and alleging a highly-coordinated scheme promoting opioids to treat pain at the expense of Americans, including thousands of Teamster members. In Ohio, which is home to 50,000 Teamster members, opioids are the main source of drug overdoses. West Virginia has suffered the highest opioid overdose death rate in the country. Blue-collar workers – like the construction, mining and manufacturing workers that the Teamsters represent – are at particularly high-risk of abusing opioids that are commonly prescribed to treat on-the-job injuries.
The Teamster Health and Welfare Benefit Funds collectively provide health care coverage for thousands of active and retired Teamsters and bear much of the financial costs of opioid use – as well as dependence, abuse and addiction – by those it insures.
This litigation is just one part of the Teamsters mobilization at the local and national levels to combat the opioid crisis. M&S filed the suit along with co-counsel, Henrichsen Siegel, on behalf of plaintiffs which include Teamsters Local Nos. 175 & 505 Health & Welfare Fund; Employer – Teamsters Local Nos. 175 & 505 Retiree Health & Welfare Fund; Employer – Teamsters Local Nos. 348 Health & Welfare Fund; Teamsters Union Local No. 52 Health and Welfare Fund; and Ohio Conference of Teamsters & Industry Health and Welfare Fund. Read more about the lawsuit in “Opioid Epidemic: New Lawsuit Filed Against Drug Manufacturers” (The Patch).
On behalf of the City of Springfield, Missouri, M&S, along with co-counsel Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, filed a complaint against an array of opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers. The complaint alleges that these defendants brought in excessive amounts of dangerous, addictive medications into the city and created a “public nuisance of historic proportions.” As the Opioid Epidemic took hold across the U.S., Springfield also saw a rise in drug misuse and abuse, addiction and death at the expense of prescription opioids. Prescribing and dispensing rates in Greene County, where Springfield is situated, are well above national and state averages and has turned the City of Springfield into a destination for drug cartels. The overdose rate for Springfield citizens under the age of fifty years is almost twice the national average and the number of opioid-addicted infants born in Springfield surpasses that of any other city in the state.
The complaint includes several causes of action, including violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, RICO, negligence, public nuisance, fraud, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment. It alleges that the manufacturing defendants understated the risks of opioids in the interest of increasing profits while the distributors failed to report suspicious orders from pharmacies. The complaint seeks to bring attention to the defendants’ actions, as well as recover damages suffered by the city and require the defendants to help fund and solve the problems they created. Costs to Springfield also include, but are not limited to: funding health insurance; providing medical treatment; investigating and prosecuting drug-related crimes; incarcerating perpetrators; supervising and rehabilitating the addicted; and preventing, investigating, and treating overdoses.
The complaint was filed in the Southern Division, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on May 30.
Recent media coverage includes:
KY3, “Springfield, Greene County to file lawsuits against opioid manufacturers”
Fox5, “Springfield and Greene County take steps to address opioid crisis”
OzarksFirst, “City of Springfield Taking Steps to Address Opioid Crisis”
Working IDEAL is pleased to welcome Strategic Partner Jenny R. Yang. Established in early 2017 by Cyrus Mehri and M&S alum, Pamela Coukos, Working IDEAL is a a separate, but complementary business, dedicated to advancing the IDEAL workplace.
Working IDEAL provides trusted, effective and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent and fair pay to organizations across the nation large and small companies, government agencies, universities, nonprofits, and unions. Co-founders Pamela Coukos and Cyrus Mehri, along with new Strategic Partner Jenny R. Yang, have decades of experience breaking down barriers to diversity, inclusion, equity and access, and devising effective, sustainable reform.
Jenny is passionate about helping employers design and implement workplace practices that prevent harassment, foster respectful workplaces, and promote inclusion and equality of opportunity through evidence-based research. Before joining Working IDEAL, Jenny led the nation’s enforcement and public policy strategy promoting equal opportunity, as Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She has dedicated her career to advancing equality, representing workers challenging discrimination and other unfair employment practices, and championing structural reforms through private and public impact litigation. Jenny has already been partnering with Working IDEAL to develop innovative approaches to harassment training and assessment tools for private, public and nonprofit employers. Read more about Jenny here: workingideal.com/about. And join us for a reception welcoming Jenny on June 13 in Washington, D.C. Click here for details and to RSVP.