CARMEL, NY – Putnam County’s lawsuit to hold the opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for the rampant heroin and opioid abuse and deaths in our communities can proceed after several Motions to Dismiss were rejected in State Supreme Court in Central Islip, NY, on Tuesday, June 19.
State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo denied several Motions to Dismiss filed by various manufacturers of opioid-related pharmaceuticals. Putnam County is one of the dozens of New York counties that have filed suit against pharmaceutical companies for deceptive marketing practices, claiming these practices were meant to minimize the addiction risks of opioids. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendant manufacturers fueled statewide and community-based addiction crises through false advertising and deceptive marketing.
“Justice Garguilo’s decision let Big Pharma know that we have a credible cause for filing this lawsuit and those companies will not be able to hide from its share of responsibility and accountability for the opioid crisis behind its high-priced attorneys,” said County Executive Odell. “The opioid crisis has affected far too many Putnam County residents and I am pleased to see that courts agree that our case deserves to be heard.”
Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who chairs the Health Committee, agreed.
“The court decision verifies that taking on the pharmaceutical companies is not just a stunt. There are triable issues of fact which should proceed before the State Supreme Court. The effects of opioid addiction and destruction are unquestionable, and have a devastating effect on society,” said Scuccimarra.
Local state representatives are also pleased with Justice Garguilo’s decision.
Senator Terrence Murphy said, “The war against heroin and opioid addiction has been fought on many fronts; in treatment centers, in homes, in schools and now in the courts. The casualties have been the individuals and families whose health and safety have been jeopardized by pharmaceutical manufacturers who care more for profits than people. It is time they were held responsible for pushing poison into our communities.”
Senator Sue Serino said, “The heroin and opioid epidemic has devastated far too many New York communities and we have a duty to ensure that we are doing all we can to stop the scourge. That includes holding those who perpetuate the problem accountable. This decision marks a positive step forward and I commend our local communities for working tirelessly to combat this pervasive problem.”
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said, “This is great news in the continued fight to combat the opioid epidemic. Putnam County is on the front lines of this fight to hold Big Pharma accountable for its role in the marketing and distribution of these highly addictive opioid pain medications.”
The court decision was encouraging news for Susan Salomone, Executive Director of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard.
“This is definitely one important hurdle in many that we face,” Salomone said. “Our hope is that justice for all the lives lost is somehow redeemed through this Supreme Court decision. Although we cannot bring our loved ones back we can find ways to use the proceeds from this litigation to help others that are still suffering.”
In addition to the New York counties’ pending action in New York State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, there are hundreds of state and local government cases filed in federal court, consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio.
County Executive Odell has stated that any monetary award given to Putnam County will be given to the nonprofit agencies that help residents battle addictions.