Though the opioid epidemic may have been shunted out of the public limelight by recent public health crises, the effects are still being felt. More than 2,700 cases are still pending in Ohio federal court and new opioid lawsuit filings are being bounced back to local and tribal governments.
These lawsuits have been filed by individuals seeking justice for over 430,000 overdose deaths related to opioids, and by state and municipal governments charging pharmaceuticals with deceitful marketing and creating a public health crisis. Still, there are a number of questions regarding how a new opioid lawsuit can be filed.
Is Filing a New Opioid Lawsuit Pointless?
One of the biggest impediments to filing a new opioid lawsuit is that some news stories can make it sound like litigation over the opioid epidemic is nearing its close. In February, The New York Times released news that the largest generic opioid manufacturer in the U.S., Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, had tentatively agreed to pay $1.6 billion in settlements. Smaller stories also arose, such as a $1.25 billion settlement in West Virginia.
This is not a sign that the litigation is ending, however. In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that 21 states rejected an $18 billion settlement proposal from opioid producers AmerisourceBergen Corp, McKesson Corp and Cardinal Health Inc. Even after that amount rose to $19.2 billion in March, there were still states protesting the settlement because it would not pay out unless every state withdrew all lawsuits filed in their borders against the companies.
While large MDL settlements can sound impressive, even a $19.4 billion settlement would only amount to $384 million per state and only $6.4 million per lawsuit. This amount could not treat the millions affected by the opioid crisis and also reform institutions. That’s why filing a new opioid lawsuit on behalf of an individual or a group of individuals may better serve certain needs.
Although some manufacturing companies may settle, some experts believe those settlements would only signal the end of the first litigatory wave. Andrew Pollis, JD, a law professor from Case Western Reserve University, told Healio Primary Care News that pharmacies are front and center for a new wave of multidistrict lawsuits for the role they played in the opioid crisis. This may be another good reason to file a new opioid lawsuit.
Filing a New Opioid Lawsuit
In order to file for a new opioid lawsuit, separate from existing class-actions and MDLs, there are certain qualifying factors. While there is no universal standard that will automatically qualify your case, one basic qualification is that you have used medications such as Oxycontin, MS Contin, Butrans, Hysingla ER. Some qualifying evidence for having been affected by the negligence of opioid manufacturers may be that in the past two years you or a loved one have:
- Experienced a death by opioid overdose
- Had to be revived from opioid overdose by use of naloxone (Narcan)
- Overdosed, requiring hospital stay
- Given birth to a child affected by neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and required a NICU stay of 30 days or more
- Lost a job due to opioid addiction
- Lost custody of a child due to opioid addiction
- Injured yourself due to your addiction
- Experienced an automobile accident while on opioid medication
If you or a loved one have experienced any combination of these symptoms, you may have grounds for a new opioid lawsuit. If you have, you should contact an addiction specialist and an attorney. Before meeting with any legal professionals, you should gather any invoices, receipts, accident reports, prescriptions or refill receipts you may have related to your injuries.
While your first concern should be your own health and wellbeing, a new opioid lawsuit may be the best method of finding relief from the undue burden of hospital bills, loss of work or other life-changing effects of wrongfully prescribed opioid addiction.