Pittsfield Charter Township Takes Aim at Drug Distributors and Manufacturers to Recoup Costs of Opioid Epidemic

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Sommers Schwartz, P.C., will represent the Township in a pending lawsuit to recover costs of local services incurred in fighting opioid crisis.

We are hopeful this lawsuit will help Pittsfield Township recover some of the enormous taxpayer costs we spend combating this epidemic that could otherwise be used to better solve crimes and protect our community.

Like many communities across the United States, the nation’s opioid crisis has forced Pittsfield Township to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on local services. And like many municipalities in Michigan and elsewhere, Pittsfield officials want to hold drug distributors and manufacturers accountable for the expenses it has incurred to combat the epidemic they say those companies have fueled.

During a February 27, 2019, meeting, the Township’s Board of Trustees passed a unanimous resolution declaring the opioid crisis a public nuisance. The decision prompted the Board to retain Sommers Schwartz, P.C., of Southfield, Michigan, and a consortium of six major law firms to join Pittsfield in a pending lawsuit against the largest manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. That previously filed action (Case 2:18-cv-12938-DPH-RSW, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan) alleges that the companies pushed dangerous and highly addictive opioids into the marketplace, misrepresented to physicians the magnitude of the risk of addiction, and violated their legal obligations to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report suspicious prescription opioid orders.

“We are hopeful this lawsuit will help Pittsfield Township recover some of the enormous taxpayer costs we spend combating this epidemic that could otherwise be used to better solve crimes and protect our community,” said Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal in a public announcement. “Every dime we can recover will go back into our public safety operations along with addiction and mental health treatment programming to help residents in Pittsfield Township and Washtenaw County turn their lives around. For years, the manufacturers and distributors of such opioids as Oxycodone and Fentanyl have allegedly made obscene amounts of profits by preying on the mental and physical ailments of our residents.”

Pittsfield Township, located south of Ann Arbor, is the latest Michigan community to join the multidistrict litigation pending in the federal district court in Cleveland and the first in Washtenaw County. Sommers Schwartz represents several other governmental units that are already participating in the litigation.

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Robert B. Sickels
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