by Becky GINOS
FARMINGTON—Opioids are destroying lives across the country and Davis County is not immune. It’s become so serious that the county announced Tuesday at commission meeting it had filed a lawsuit against some of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
The suit claims the companies have been negligent in the distribution of prescription opioid painkillers and the “resulting surge in overdose and fatality rates that continue to ravage local communities.”
“Opioids are a damaging, serious issue in Davis County,” said Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. “It’s impacted families, businesses and homes. It’s a big issue here.”
Rawlings explained the county wanted to file its own suit rather than join in the other suits being filed throughout the state and country.
“We want the case to be heard here,” he said. “We want a Davis County jury to hear and assess our stories and render a verdict.”
The county has been meeting with law firms for the past several months to determine the best fit for the litigation. They selected Durham Jones & Pinegar P.C. and Phipps Deacon Purnell PLLC., two firms experienced in mass tort actions and successfully litigating complex consumer protection.
“We were super impressed with these firms, they are clearly competent and demonstrated a genuine commitment to Davis County,” said Chief Deputy County Attorney Neal Geddes. “They shared the same vision we did to keep the case local and share our story.”
The commission unanimously approved the agreement with the two law firms and the suit was filed immediately in 2nd Judicial District Court. The complaint seeks relief including statutory and actual damages for costs incurred as a result of the opioid crisis. Those damages include increased costs of county-funded opioid treatment and prevention programs, emergency and first responder services and law enforcement, according to material provided.
“There’s a reason we didn’t jump on the bandwagon,” said Commissioner Bret Millburn. “We’ve done our homework and take this very seriously. No words can describe the insidiousness and egregiousness of this issue. There’s not a citizen that has not been impacted by opioids. The real tragedy is it just doesn’t stop. We’ll be dealing with this for years to come.”
“The tentacles of opioids go deep,” said Commission Chair Randy Elliott. “It changes lives and people’s demeanor. I had a sister who got addicted to opioids. It was hard to see the sister I loved change so much. I’m proud of Davis County. We’re going to take you guys (pharma) on. You’re going to pay for your lies.”
“Big pharma better watch out – here we come,” said Rawlings. “We’re ready, we’re serious. We plan on winning and holding them accountable.”