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Encinitas sues opioid manufacturers, distributors

ENCINITAS, Calif. — The city of Encinitas announced Thursday that it filed a lawsuit against multiple companies and parties in the opioid manufacturing industry, arguing that the city is entitled to economic and health and welfare damages due to the ongoing opioid crisis.

The parties named in the suit include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries USA Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., the AmerisourceBergen Corporation and the Sackler family, the owners of oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. City officials recently directed the city attorney’s office to file a civil suit in the Superior Court of the State of California.

The city has retained the special legal counsel of the Minnesota-based law firm Robins Kaplan LLP to litigate the case, which alleges that opioid manufacturers and distributors engaged in conduct that led doctors to prescribe the drugs and neglected to warn consumers of how addictive opioids are.

“This lawsuit will seek to recover costs and tax resources taken from the City and its citizens due to the bad acts of the manufacturers and distributors of opioids who caused this ongoing crisis,” said Robins Kaplan attorney Roman Silberfeld.

Encinitas’ prescription opioid death rate of 5.84 per 100,000 people outpaces the state’s rate of 3.7 deaths and is just shy of San Diego County’s rate of 6.05 deaths. According to preliminary data from the California Department of Public Health, more than 2,300 people died in the state in 2018 for reasons related to an opioid overdose.

Thousands of local governments and the attorneys general of more than 20 states have filed suit against companies like Purdue Pharma in the last two years for their alleged role in the nationwide opioid epidemic, arguing the business practices of opioid manufacturers have been manipulative and deceptive. In August, Purdue offered up to $12 billion to settle more than 2,000 outstanding lawsuits regarding oxycontin.

Encinitas is not the first city in the county to file suit against opioid manufacturers. In February, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott announced she would pursue legal action against multiple manufacturers and distributors for contributing to the opioid crisis.

“This legal action is necessary to stem the tide of opioid addiction in our community,” Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “We can no longer stand by and watch our families suffer the consequences of the irresponsible action of these businesses.”

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