Bucks County has hired a law firm to file a civil claim against opioid manufacturers and distributors in the wake of the crisis that has gripped the country.
At their Wednesday meeting, the Bucks County Commissioners approved hiring Scott & Scott LLC, a law firm based in New York City that has represented the county in unrelated matters previously. The law firm has been hired on a contingency fee basis.
Attorney Judy Scolnick of Scott & Scott LLC said the county is seeking opioid manufacturers and distributors take steps to correct and reduce the problem, offer additional education and provide a damage award for county services impacted by the epidemic.
The lawsuit will be filed in state court at first, Scolnick said.
Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery said the lawsuit will help the county recover some of the costs in the fight against the epidemic.
The rising cost related to the opioid crisis was blamed by officials for a county tax increase for 2018. Opioid-related arrests in Bucks County were up up 30 percent in two years, child abuse investigations up 95 percent and autopsies performed up 141 percent.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub said drug companies had “willful blindness” and each company needs to be held accountable. He also stated that people who commit crimes due to addiction also need to be held accountable.
Bensalem announced last summer that they plan file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their part in the opioid epidemic. In September, Middletown announced they were exploring legal recourse related to the epidemic.
Nationwide, local governments have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Many of the legal actions are still making their way through the court system.
“This is going to be a long battle but one we must pursue,” Loughery said.