Jefferson County commissioners going after drug companies, doctors, distributors

The Jefferson County commissioners are suing opioid drug companies, doctors, and distributors.

The Jefferson County commissioners are suing opioid drug companies, doctors, and distributors.

The suit is one of the first of its kind to seek compensation for damages from the opioid crisis at a local level.

Jefferson County is one of the worst in the state of Ohio in terms of the opioid addiction," Commissioner Thomas Graham said. "Major costs to the county in terms of the jail situation, in terms of the coroner's office, in terms of foster care."

The Jefferson County Prosecutor's Office advised the commissioners to go after every stakeholder in opioid manufacture, prescription and distribution.

"The idea is to seek damages for what the county has expounded to date as it relates to the epidemic and the corporate greed that was exhibited," said attorney Frank L. Gallucci III, of Plevin & Galluci Co.

The 260-page complaint names approximately 25 defendants: pill mill doctors, distributors and the drug manufacturers.

Gallucci says more counties and should be taking pharmaceutical companies to court. The McKesson Corporation agreed to $150 million in fines last January, but its stock prices still went up the next day, Gallucci says, because shareholders considered that a slap on the wrist.

Attorneys trying these cases are seeking money not as punishment, but as reimbursement for dealing with the epidemic.

The suit is being filed by multiple firms at the local and state level. The challenge is case is to keep it in state court. Attorneys filing the case for the county say the defendants will try to move it to federal court. A successful argument for compensation on damages would get the money to drug courts and rehab programs directly back to Jefferson County.

“Divergent programs and drug courts and services that are necessary for the legal system to be able to deal with this," Gallucci said. "And the third prong, to abate the nuisance and damages that we're seeking to help with treatment, to help those who have been impacted by this crisis, help them get back on their feet."

This case is set up as a contingency agreement. The attorneys are taking on the case with the caveat that they will only charge fees if they win the case for Jefferson County.

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