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Native American tribes file lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors

Three Native American tribes in South Dakota have filed suit against manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers for their role in the nationwide opioid epidemic. The lawsuit – filed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate – alleges that the 24 opioid manufacturers and distributors named in the complaint hid the addiction of these medications in Native American tribal communities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200,000 Americans died between 2000 and 2016 as a result of opioid overdoses. But the effects of these medications have been even more devastating for Native American communities. Native Americans suffer the highest per capita risk for opioid overdoses, according to the CDC. About one in 10 Native American young adults use opioids for non-medical purposes, double the rate for white youths.

The two dozen opioid manufacturers and distributors named in the tribes’ lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen. According to the lawsuit, these companies failed to comply with federal laws designed to prevent the diversion and abuse of opioid painkillers. The lawsuit also accuses the companies of violating federal RICO laws and engaging in deceptive trade practices, fraud, and other negligent conduct.

Brendan Johnson, the former U.S. attorney for South Dakota, and Tim Purdon, former U.S. attorney for North Dakota, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three tribes. The two attorneys say that although the lawsuit was only filed on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux, the Flandreau Santee Sioux, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, all nine Native American tribes in North and South Dakota have been affected by the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit filed by the three tribes is the second filed by Native American tribes against opioid companies. In April 2017, the the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma became the first American Indian tribe to file a lawsuit over the effect of opioid painkillers on Native American populations. Walmart, CVS, and other companies who were named in the Oklahoma lawsuit have argued that they are not subject to the jurisdiction of Cherokee tribal courts. The motion is still pending in U.S. federal court.

Lawsuits Filed Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

The lawsuit filed by the three American Indian tribes against opioid makers and distributors is one of hundreds filed against companies such as these over the opioid crisis. Hundreds of city, county, and state authorities have also filed lawsuit against opioid firms over their aggressive marketing of opioid medications to doctors and patients.

Thousands of Americans who have been affected by abuse, addiction, or overdoses linked to opioid painkillers have also filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these drugs. In December 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated about 180 of these lawsuit in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Ohio.

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Opioid Overdose Victims

If you or your family have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose, you may qualify to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers or distributors of the drug, the pharmacy that issued the prescriptions, or the doctor or medical facility that prescribed the medication. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and begin the first steps in filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson committed to helping patients who have been harmed by the aggressive marketing of opioids by the pharmaceutical industry and the indiscriminate prescribing practices for painkillers of many doctors.  Our attorneys have filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of victims of opioid overdoses, and have handled more lawsuits involving the powerful opioid medications fentanyl than all other law firms in the country combined.

For more information about the opioid lawsuits filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact our attorneys by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form or by completing the contact form at the top of this page.

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