Wisconsin municipalities sue opioid companies

In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in Wisconsin, 11 municipalities are suing 20 pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.

"(It) Requires these defendants to answer these charges locally, that is why we filed this lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court and in Racine County Circuit Court," Smith said. "These cities and villages have spent enormous resources on dealing with, and combatting, the opioid abuse problem."

The cities involved are demanding reimbursement for costs associated with the opioid epidemic. By going through local courts, the timelines for a resolution are shorter compared to those at the federal level.

"This is a local problem, this is happening here, and they should answer for it here," said Smith.

Jackie Ove, public health administrator for South Milwaukee and St. Francis, said a move like this is a welcome sight.

"It’s just another tool for us to combat the opioid epidemic," Ove said. "Still a huge problem, and we’re going to be continuing to look at that into 2021."

The lawsuit is the product of two years of work, Smith said. In the past two years, Milwaukee County has set a record for the number of overdose deaths with 545 in 2020 alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, there are resources available at impactinc.org/impact-2-1-1 and dhs.wisconsin.gov/opioids/find-treatment.

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