SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane is joining dozens of other governments in a lawsuit against major opioid manufacturers.
The city council approved a contract with a Seattle-based law firm to join the suit against companies like Purdue Pharma, the maker of oxycotin.
Purdue Pharma recently filed for bankruptcy to settle some 2,600 lawsuits, most from state and local governments. About half of the states and lawyers have agreed to a tentative settlement worth somewhere between $10 to $12 billion.
Council members say any money won would go toward a variety of programs – but it cannot make up for the damage already done.
“Council has been agitating to get on this for a long time because of the damages that these companies have caused our community,” council member Breean Beggs said. “But I would say over the summer there were several court decisions which went in favor of this type of litigation on behalf of cities and counties. And so when our legal department looked at it again, they said, ‘You know what? The benefits probably outweigh the risks.’”
The city council passed a resolution in May asking the city attorney to analyze the potential of taking legal action against opioid manufacturers.
The resolution came after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson launched a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and three other distribution companies.
Ferguson told KREM’s Casey Decker in May that he thinks the manufacturers bear “quite a bit” of responsibility for the opioid crisis in the United States.
In April 2018, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to work with other municipalities and counties suing opioid manufacturers and wholesalers.
This is not the first time City of Spokane has pursued legal action against a large company.
In 2015, the city announced a lawsuit against agrochemical giant Monsanto.
The lawsuit alleged that the company sold chemicals for decades that it knew were a danger to people and the environment.