Here’s one way to address a local-government budget deficit: Roll the dice and sue the pharmaceutical industry.
The Arlington County Board has emulated nearly two dozen other Virginia localities in taking to court a large number of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including some of the biggest names in the health-care industry.
The lawsuit seeks upwards of $150 million in compensatory damages and, where allowed by law, treble damages – plus punitive damages.
County Board members have retained a number of law firms, including Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, Kaufman & Canoles PC and the Cicala Law Firm PLLC.
“It is fair for Arlington County to respond [to the impact of opioid use on public-health resources] by seeking to hold those responsible for the epidemic – those who continue to profit from it – accountable for its costs,” said attorney Joanne Cicala.
“We are pleased to represent Arlington as it seeks to hold defendants accountable,” added attorney Kevin Sharp.
According to both the Arlington County attorney’s office and a spokesman for the legal team, the case is being handled on a contingency basis.
“There are no out-of-pocket expenses [to the county government] at this time,” an Arlington government spokesman said. “Expenses would be paid out of any award.”
Neither the county government nor the attorneys would go further in detailing the financial arrangement.
The suit initially was filed in Arlington Circuit Court, but attorneys for the defendants have had it moved to the Eastern District of Virginia at the federal level.
The legal team representing the county government already had signed up 23 other Virginia jurisdictions to sue the pharmaceutical industry. Locally, Alexandria and Prince William County are engaged in litigation.