West Virginia Record

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Grafton, Philippi mayors sue distributors for opioid epidemic

State Court

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 8, 2019


MOUNDSVILLE — The mayors of Grafton and Philippi are suing Purdue Pharma and other drug distributors for their part in the opioid crisis that has ravaged West Virginia.

Grafton Mayor Peggy Knotts and Philippi Mayor Philip Bowers filed the lawsuits on June 26 in Marshall Circuit Court. They claim the defendants played a significant role in creating what amounts to a public nuisance by flooding Grafton and Philippi with excessive amounts of dangerous and addictive medications, according to the complaints.

Purdue Pharma, Purdue Pharma Inc., the Purdue Frederick Company, Richard S. Sackler, Jonathan D. Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Kathe A. Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Beverly Sackler, Theresa Sackler, David A. Sackler, Trust for the Benefit of the Mortimer Sackler Family, Trust for the Benefit of the Raymond Sackler Family, Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Cephalon, Hanssen Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Noramco, Mallinckrodt Enterprises, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Actavis PLC, Actavis Pharma, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Watson Pharma, Watson Laboratories, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health 102, Cardinal Health 110, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Company, Smith LLC, Rite Aid of Maryland, Wal-mart Sotres East, Mark Ross, Patty Carnes, Carol DeBord, Jeff Waugh, Shane Cook and West Virginia Board of Pharmacy (BOP) were all named as defendants in the suit.

"The Defendants' actions are a serious breach of the public trust, which has resulted in drug abuse, misuse, overdose deaths and untold expenses and lost revenue for Plaintiffs," the complaints state.

The complaint states that as distributors, McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen bore a significant duty to ensure that the drugs did not end up on the wrong hands.

"In exchange for promising to honor their obligations, each of the Distributor Defendants were licesned and/or registered by the BOP and ultimately received compensation in the form of millions of dollars per year for shipping volumes of drugs well beyond what a reasonable company would expect," the complaints state.

The mayors claim dangerous and addictive drugs were diverted, misused and abused to the point where West Virginia citizens lost their jobs, health and even their lives.

Small towns like Grafton and Philippi were left to clean up the mess and attempt to restore order to their towns, according to the suit.

The towns claim the dangerous and addictive drugs caused harm to neighborhoods, schools and public utilities and the towns suffered loss of revenue.

"When the Distributor Defendants failed to timely submit suspicious order reports, the BOP was nowhere to be seen," the complaints state. "Even when the Distributor Defendants did submit a handful of suspicious reports, the BOP simply filed them away in a drawer without so mich as a second look or cursory investigation."

The mayors claim they filed the lawsuit to recoup expenses and recover damages suffered by residents of the cities and to "abate the continuing public nuisance caused in whole or in part by the collective actions of Defendants."

The mayors are represented by H. Truman Chafin and Letitia N. Chafin of The Chafin Law Firm; Hunter Mullens of Mullens & Mullens PLLC; James Young of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group; Mark E. Troy of Troy Law Firm; and Harry F. Bell Jr. of Stewart Bell.

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 19-C-151, 19-C-152

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