Schuyler County held a public hearing Tuesday night to review a proposed local law declaring the opioid epidemic and its effects on the County a public nuisance.
According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, the draft local law is the next step in the County’s lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers.
“The purpose and intent of this legislation is to allow the County to recover costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased,” Getman explained. “Many of these costs are paid by the County.”
Upon passage, the local law would be followed by the filing of a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the County
The County Legislature voted in August to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC to file that lawsuit on their behalf. Napoli Shkolnik will work with Getman, as special counsel.
“Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said. “To date, County officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. The lawsuit will seek to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”
According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit will be filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.
“By voting to go forward with local law, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.
“These drug companies have poisoned our communities and polluted our children” says Paul Napoli, of counsel for Napoli Shkolnik. Paul Napoli leads the charge with Hunter Shkolnik against drug companies nationwide.
“The painkiller overdose epidemic is a classic case of putting profits before people,” he said. “Many opioid manufacturers were so intent on selling as much product as possible that they either turned a blind eye towards, or intentionally buried, reports that these drugs were highly addictive and potentially deadly.”
Napoli added that “our door is open” to other New York municipalities who are also fed up with the overdose epidemic, and that Napoli Law has the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the big pharma lawyers.
Napoli has dedicated much of his career to mass tort litigation. He has fought on behalf of 9/11 injury victims at both the statehouse and the courthouse, and he and his team also took on the big energy companies which contaminated much of Long Island’s drinking water supply with dangerously high levels of methyl tertiary butyl ether.
A copy of the proposed local law, as introduced February 12, 2018, can be found HERE: