The towns of Riverhead and Southold and the Village of East Hampton last week joined dozens of other Suffolk County municipalities in suing opioid manufacturers.
The aggrieved parties join others around the country alleging opioid companies deliberately masked the addictive nature of their products and aggressively marketed them to consumers. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for costs related to the opioid abuse issue.
Last week, the East Hampton Village Board authorized Tate, Grossman, Kelly & Iaccarino, LLP to file a lawsuit on its behalf against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Southold and Riverhead towns did, too.
“Municipalities and other organizations have had to dedicate substantial resources to develop programs and train personnel, purchase overdose medication, pay overtime for first responders and other staff, and absorb unnecessary increases in medical/healthcare costs,” the law firm states on its website. “Not to mention the related losses of productivity.”
Southold Town attorney Bill Duffy confirmed that several municipalities, including Brookhaven, Southampton, and several villages, intend to file a class-action lawsuit separate from one Suffolk County has generated suing several major opioid manufacturers and distributors. The county also alleges in its suit that opioid companies attempted to conceal the nature of their products’ addictive quality and insistently pushed them on people.
The moves follow a press conference held by New York Attorney General Letitia James urging municipalities to go after unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors of the opioids.
“When I ran for attorney general, I made a commitment to New Yorkers that I would tackle the crisis,” James said. “During my campaign all across the state, I’ve held in my arms too many mothers, too many fathers, too many individuals who told me stories about how their children died and how they died because of this epidemic that could have been prevented.”
According to Tate, Grossman, Kelly & Iaccarino, LLP’s website, the firm was established for the sole purpose of helping government municipalities and other institutions recoup damages as a result of the opioid crisis.
“TGKI Law Firm was created for the exclusive purpose of helping government municipalities, union health and pension funds, healthcare organizations, and other businesses recover damages caused by the pharmaceutical companies who are responsible for creating the modern-day epidemic known as the opioid crisis,” the site states.
A recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that Long Island suffered $8.2 billion in economic damages from the opioid crisis in 2017 alone, equating to 4.5 percent of the gross domestic product. As the report noted, there are “tangible, quantifiable fiscal impacts of the opioid crisis.”
With litigation already pending and big pharmaceutical companies and their owners “running for cover and filing bankruptcy,” Tate, Grossman, Kelly & Iaccarino, LLP stated, municipalities need to act quickly before the ability to recover damages is lost or diminished.
“It’s a sad day when our village has to get enmeshed in something like this,” East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach said, “but it’s a tragedy across the breadth of our country.”