Arkansas counties and cities file joint lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers
Unique, unified approach is unlike any other in the country and ensures recovered damages stay in Arkansas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 21, 2018) – In a unified and unprecedented approach against the opioid drug industry, the state of Arkansas, Arkansas counties and Arkansas cities announced that together they have filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Crittenden County.
This unique litigation approach is unlike any others in the country and will represent 90 percent of Arkansas’s population, with 72 counties and 210 cities participating. It is believed that it will cost billions to stop the Arkansas opioid epidemic and that this money should come from the companies that caused the problem instead of taxpayers.
“Though other lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country, Arkansas is the only state that has united in this fashion,” said Chris Villines, executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties. “Instead of fighting and competing with each other on critically needed settlement dollars for our cities and counties, all of the cities and counties are working together to do what’s best for Arkansas.”
The epidemic is real and has ravaged Arkansas families for years. While the U.S. experiences more than 42,000 fatal overdoses a year, Arkansas experiences over 400, a number that has increased nearly 300 percent since 2000 and coincides with opioid sales quadrupling. Additionally, Arkansas ranks second in the nation for ages 12-17 in misuse of opioids (4.67%) behind Alabama, which is also the only other state with a higher opioid prescribing rate than Arkansas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more.
Complaint originally filed on March 15, 2018 in Crittenden County Circuit Court.
List of counties engaged in the litigation.
List of municipalities engaged in the litigation.
List of named defendants.
Watch video from the news conference announcing the lawsuit.
Opioid news conference photos.
Media Coverage of the News Conference
Arkansas cities, counties sue drug makers over opioid crisis — Associated Press
State, cities, counties sue opioid makers, suppliers — Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Opioids in Arkansas
In the Feb. 22, 2018, issue of Arkansas Times, Reporter David Koon presented a comprehensive report on the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. He interviewed family members of those who have died of overdoses, and he interviewed chronic pain patients who rely on opioids to live a normal life. The investigative piece also includes interviews with AAC Executive Director Chris Villines and AAC Litigation Counsel Colin Jorgensen, who spoke about the impact opioid addiction has had on local governments.
This joint report from National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) examines how cities and counties can strengthen collaboration with each other and state, federal, private-sector and non-profit partners to tackle the opioid crisis. Several of the recommendations are accompanied by existing local practices from cities and counties. The report also includes recommendations for state and federal officials, who are pivotal partners in local efforts to combat opioid misuse, diversion, overdose and death.