Gilbert mayor sues drug wholesalers for prescription drug epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | May 22, 2017


WILLIAMSON – Mayor Vivian Livinggood has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the town of Gilbert against the drug wholesalers and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy for the prescription drug epidemic that has ravaged the state.

McKesson Corporation; AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation; Cardinal Health 110; and Miami-Luken were the drug wholesalers named in the lawsuit.

The defendants played a significant role in creating what amounts to a public nuisance by flooding Gilbert with excessive amounts of dangerous and addictive medications, according to a complaint filed May 19 in Mingo Circuit Court.

Livinggood claims the defendants’ actions are a serious breach of the public trust, which has resulted in drug abuse, misuse, overdose deaths and untold expenses for the plaintiff.

“Like sharks circling their prey, multi-billion dollar companies, descended upon Appalachia for the sole purpose of profiting off of the prescription drug fueled feeding frenzy commonly referred to…as  the opioid epidemic,” the complaint states. “Despite its position as guardian and protector of the public, Defendant BOP failed in all regards to do its job and stop the alleged conduct.”

Livinggood claims as distributors of inherently dangerous products like prescription narcotics, McKesson, Cardinal, ABDC and Miami-Luken bore a significant duty to ensure that the drugs did not end up in the wrong hands.

In exchange for promising to honor their obligations, each of the defendant distributors was licensed and/or registered by the Board of Pharmacy and ultimately received compensation in the form of millions of dollars per year for shipping volumes of drugs well beyond what a reasonably company would expect, according to the suit.

Livinggood claims the drugs ended up in the wrong hands and were diverted, misused and abused to the point where West Virginia citizens lost their jobs, health and even their lives.

:When the dangerous and addictive drugs caused harm to the public health of Gilbert in the form of addiction, overdose and death, Defendant Distributors were nowhere to be seen, but the town of Gilbert was there to dispatch emergency services, run drug treatment programs, investigate overdoses, care for the inform and transport dead bodies,” the complaint states.

Livinggood claims Gilbert was there to enforce codes, clean up streets and neighborhoods and repair and/or replace damaged and destroyed property.

From 2007 through 2012, the drug distributors shipped 5,331,970 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to pharmacies in Gilbert, when the town’s population averaged 433. This equated to 12,314 highly addictive and deadly opioid pills for every man, woman and child in the town during that period of time.

Livinggood is seeking compensatory and punitive damages; a temporary and permanent restraining order preventing the defendants from continuing to violate West Virginia laws, among other mandates and orders; and other damages. She is being represented by H. Truman Chafin and Letitia N. Chafin of the Chafin Law Firm; Mark E. Troy of Troy Law Firm; Harry F. Bell Jr. of the Bell Law Firm; and John Tanchunis, Patrick Barthle and James Young. of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group.

The team of attorneys have filed approximately one-half dozen opioid lawsuits in West Virginia naming the drug distributors and others, all in state court.

Bell said the team has consulted with numerous experts in various fields and have performed extensive investigation into the basis of the claims they have brought for their clients.

Mingo Circuit Court case number: 17-C-94

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Mingo Circuit Court Morgan & Morgan PA The Bell Law Firm, PLLC Troy Law Firm

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H. Truman Chafin Letitia Neese Chafin

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