Thurston County Opioid Litigation
Thurston County v. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al.
United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
Case No. 3:18-cv-05238
On March 26, 2018, Keller Rohrback L.L.P. filed suit on behalf of Thurston County, Washington, against opioid manufacturers and distributors, including Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and other entities, for the reckless promotion of opioids.
Defendants’ dubious marketing and aggressive sales of prescription opioids have significantly contributed to the current opioid crisis. Since the mid-1990s, opioids have become the most prescribed class of drugs in America. More than half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid like those manufactured by Defendants. Beyond the cost of human life, the economic burden of prescription opioid abuse costs the United States an estimated $78.5 billion per year in health care and addiction treatment and puts increased strains on human services and the criminal justice system. America is awash in opioids – in 2016, health care providers wrote 289 million prescriptions for opioids, enough for every adult in the country to have more than one bottle of pills.
In Thurston County, the sixth largest county in Washington State with approximately 275,000 residents, at least 106 residents have died from opioid-related overdoses from 2012-2016. This rate of approximately 7.7 deaths per 100,000 residents marks a greater than 35% increase from the rate the County experienced in the early 2000s.
Plaintiff Thurston County joins several other municipalities and government entities in litigation for damages related to the opioid crisis, including but not limited to, increased emergency medical responses to overdoses, drug-related offenses, and resource allocation spent on community and social programs.
Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said in a press release: “Opioid addiction has reached epidemic levels in Thurston County and opioid related deaths have increased dramatically over the past decade. We believe these companies directly contributed to the creation of this epidemic…[O]ur strategy against this opioid epidemic must also include holding these companies, who have reaped substantial profits from the sale of these drugs, accountable for creating the worst human-caused epidemic in history.”
Derek Loeser, a partner at Keller Rohrback, said it’s time that the companies responsible for this epidemic be held accountable. “Too many communities have been hit hard by this crisis on so many levels. We’re honored to work with Thurston County to ensure that they get some relief for the disaster that the companies responsible for the epidemic created.”
Keller Rohrback’s Complaint was filed on March 26, 2018, in the Western District of Washington. On April 11, 2018, the case was transferred into the national MDL (Multi-District Litigation) In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. 2804, in the Northern District of Ohio before the Honorable Dan A. Polster.