Rowan County formally files suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid pain relievers.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District in Greensboro.

The commissioners passed a resolution on March 19 declaring the opioid crisis a public nuisance that must be abated for the benefit of Rowan County and its residents. They have since signed a contract with a number of law firms throughout the Southeast to file civil litigation.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that more than 90 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids — prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids.

The institute also found that opioid misuse and addiction are serious national crises that affect public health as well as social and economic welfare.

Following research, the Rowan commissioners found that they have the authority to seek abatement of any public nuisance that interferes with the public health, safety, peace and convenience of residents.

The board retained national law firms from Texas, Mississippi, Florida, West Virginia, and North Carolina for the lawsuit.

Board Chairman Greg Edds said the lawsuit delivers a powerful message that the people of Rowan County will not tolerate the actions and failures of the opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“We have decided to not sit on the sidelines but to take action against the root cause of the opioid crisis,” said Edds. “We are confident that the Board of Commissioners has taken the appropriate action on behalf of our citizens to do all that we can to put an end to the opioid abuse that daily affects the lives of all of our residents.”

Board Vice Chairman Jim Greene said the contracted law firms are “some of the best law firms in the country.”

He said the firms have a record of accomplishment in this type of litigation against powerful opponents, and that the attorneys have agreed the case will not cost taxpayers.

“We are well aware that this could take time to reach a favorable conclusion, but we feel it is critical to take action now if there is any way to end this crisis that is impacting so many of our individuals and families,” said Greene.