Youngstown joins federal opioid lawsuit

By David Skolnick


The city joined a federal civil lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis.

The city’s 168-page filing was submitted by the law firms of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles of Montgomery, Ala., and R.D. Jackson Law Office of Birmingham, Ala. The two firms have filed on behalf of numerous states, counties and cities against more than 20 defendants including several pharmaceutical companies.

The city’s complaint alleges public nuisance, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, negligence, violation of Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act, civil conspiracy and fraudulent misrepresentation.

“From a health standpoint, [opioids have] killed many of our citizens, and it’s cost our city a considerable amount of money in incarceration, rehabilitation, policing and prosecution,” said city Law Director Jeff Limbian.

Trumbull and Columbiana counties are also plaintiffs in this case.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said, “The distribution and diversion of opioids into Youngstown by the pharmaceutical industry, the lawsuit contends, caused and continues to cause the loss of life in Youngstown with the attendant financial burden including costs associated with law enforcement and public safety.”

The city also is seeking unspecified punitive damages alleging the defendants, Brown said, “acted with actual malice, wantonly and oppressively in their quest to sell dangerous drugs to Youngstown residents. The city contends that the pharmaceutical defendants acted with a conscious disregard for rights and safety of its citizens in a manner that had great probability of causing substantial harm.”

Brown also said, “The citizens of Youngstown know from firsthand experience how deadly the opioid crisis is. Today, the city announces its plan to hold those accountable for this deadly damage.”

The trial in front of U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland is scheduled to begin Oct. 21 though the Associated Press reported earlier this week that he is pushing the parties to settle.