THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC HAS DRAINED STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS
The United States is suffering from a prescription opioid epidemic, the likes of which has never been seen before. Can the government get money back? This guide is intended to provide information to government officials.
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC DRAINED YOUR STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS... CAN YOU GET THAT MONEY BACK?The United States is suffering from a prescription opioid epidemic, the likes of which has never been seen before. In the late 1980s, when I was in medical school, I was correctly taught that opioids were addictive and dangerous pain relieving medications which should be used in very limited situations. I was taught that opiate pain relievers were only to be used for short-term treatment of severe acute pain like that experienced immediately following surgery or for long-term palliative (end-of-life) care in cancer patients. My respected medical school professors and fellow students did not question these ethical and wise standards. Recognizing the huge profits that can be made from these addictive substances, the opioid manufacturers and distributors have systematically eroded such established and respected views and created a demand for opiates from patients and their physicians.
Many people wrongly believe that those who suffer from opiate abuse and die from opiate overdoses are heroin addicts and abusers of other illegal street drugs. Those beliefs may have been true decades ago, but currently the majority of opiate abusers are abusing prescription opiates. The prescription opiates causing the physical, economic, and social devastation are made by largescale pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributed by billion-dollar wholesalers, prescribed by licensed healthcare providers, and sold by pharmacies. The only true link to heroin and the current opiate epidemic is that most of today's heroin users abused prescription opiates before turning to heroin to feed their addiction.
This guide not only discusses the damage done by prescription opiates and the resulting financial drain on the State of California and its local governments, but how governmental officials can recover that money from opiate manufacturers and distributors by filing civil actions.
PRESCRIPTION OPIATES DRAIN YOUR BUDGET AND YOUR RESOURCESAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioids (including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone) have more than quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, opioid poisoning accounted for 92,262 visits to emergency rooms. Currently, 91 Americans die every day from an opiate overdose. Healthcare providers are prescribing an opiate (usually an 18-day supply) for one out of five Americans. The CDC states, "During 2015, an estimated 12,462,000 persons aged 12 years or older in the U.S. misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, with an estimated rate of 4.7 per 100 persons."
Every time an opioid user ends up in an emergency room, he or she is likely to create a major financial loss on your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system (firmen, paramedics, and ambulances) and your local emergency room and hospital (physicians, staff, medications, diagnostics, hospitalization, treatment). According to a Kaiser healthcare article, in 2015 the average cost of care per opioid admission was $92,400.00. What this number does not take into account are the additional financial losses of post-hospitalization counseling and rehabilitation as well as payments for disability and welfare. As just one example of a rehabilitation cost, the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the cost of buprenorphine (a medication used to treat opioid abuse) at $5,980.00 per year.
The opioid epidemic also results in enormous financial expenses through overuse of your criminal justice system (policing, prosecution, imprisonment), the treatment of babies born with opioid dependency, and the costs of treating concomitant medical conditions like infectious disease and kidney/liver failure. One also needs to consider the collateral damage such as the third-party victims of motor vehicle accidents involving an impaired driver and the crimes associated with drug abuse. Finally, the socioeconomic impact on your city can be devastating through deterioration of neighborhoods affected by drugs and drug-related crimes.
Your city, county, and state budgets continue to bear the enormous financial burden of these damages. Fortunately, the civil legal system allows for financial recovery from the manufacturers and distributors of opiates, because these corporations negligently and recklessly marketed these drugs with the intent of making huge profits despite damage to human lives. A successful lawsuit against these billion-dollar titans can replenish your reserves, provide a source of funds to continue medical treatment and social programs, and allow you to add programs designed to prevent further drug abuse plus make money available for other projects. Learning how to properly manage budgets and recover lost money is a part of being a responsible and well-respected leader. You constituents will thank you for aggressively handling this major issue.
ARE ATTORNEY GENERAL LAWSUITS REALLY GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK?In September of 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that California, along with 40 other states, was increasing its efforts into the investigation of several drug manufacturers and the three largest distributors of opioids. However, the overwhelming costs of these massive investigations and the resulting complex litigation against corporations worth hundreds of billions of dollars will further drain government budgets. Much of the money recovered will be used to repay the costs of bringing the lawsuits. The result will be an expense to the opioid manufacturers but not much net recovery for your budget. Civil lawsuits, handled by private attorneys working on contingent basis (meaning the attorneys front all costs of litigation and only get paid from proceeds from a successful lawsuit) may be a much better option, because your government's department nets more money.
CIVIL LAWSUITS CAN PROVIDE BETTER RECOVERY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS"There is no fee if there is no recovery." "There is no reimbursement of litigation expenses if there is no recovery." These two sentences will be written, in boldface type, in every retainer agreement a governmental client will sign when it decides to bring a lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers and distributors through Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and their associate attorneys. These contractually binding statements mean that there are zero upfront costs to the governmental client. This important fact should not be overlooked, because it means tht the enormous litigation costs will be completely advanced by the attorneys and not come from your budget. This fact also means that there is no risk of financial loss to your department or agency. Even if a suit is unsuccessful, no reimbursement will be sought by your attorneys. The retainer agreement will also state that, upon recovery, the lawyers will be paid thirty percent of the gross recovery plus reimbursement for litigation expenses. Considering that many personal injury attorneys charge forty percent of the gross recovery for simple automobile accident cases, the thirty percent contingent recovery rate is quite reasonable.
Another advantage to hiring Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and its associate attorneys is less obvious. By representing multiple governmental clients against the same manufacturers and distributors, many of the pleadings, discovery efforts, and litigation actions will be used in other cases. This means that the costs, for which each individual client is responsible will be less than if only one lawsuit was filed. Handling many similar lawsuits against the same defendants, allows private practice attorneys to not only decrease litigation expenses, but duplicate successful tactics. Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and its associate attorneys are not new to litigation against billion-dollar corporations. Their experience and track record make them the right choice.
THE LEGAL TEAMAggressively, efficiently, and successfully litigating complex cases against companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars requires a legal team of experienced law firms with seasoned trial attorneys who also have the financial ability to advance the millions of dollars that will be needed. Fransen & Molinaro, LLP is working with a team of law firms that meet these criteria.
One member of the team is the law firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty Proctor P.A. This firm has been handling mass tort, medical device, and pharmaceutical cases for decades. In 2004, Mike Papantonio helped launch a nationwide organization called Mass Torts Made Perfect. This organization holds annual conferences for the top personal injury attorneys and teaches them successful litigation strategies to use against multi-national corporations.
The team approach is well-suited to handle the representation of cities, counties, and states in litigation against billion-dollar international companies like Purdue Pharma, McKesson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Mallinckrodt, Janssen, Endo Health Solutions, Cephalon, Watson, Allergen, Johnson & Johnson, and others. The team will pool resources, work more efficiently, and replicate successful strategies. They know how to bring lawsuits designed to hold billion-dollar international companies responsible for the damages their opioids cause.
If you are a governmental official in California, Fransen & Molinaro, LLP wants to work with your city or county, or with the State of California to sue the corporations that have ruined countless lives and financially drained local governments. These corporations need to be held accountable.
GETTING STARTEDIf you are a California governmental entity (city, country, or state) and would like more information about recovering money from opioid manufacturers and distributors, call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. for a free consultation. Paul is available to meet with you, speak at your meetings and conferences, answer questions, and explain what kinds of recovery may be available. Potential clients outside of California may also contact Paul for a referral to a local attorney. Paul can explain how governmental entities can create, and pass, a resolution to allow it to retain private attorneys to and file a contingent suit. Successful politicians care for their constituents and are good stewards of their constituents' money. Getting money back from those responsible for its loss is part of that goal.