On May 8, 2018, Carbon County filed a 72-page complaint in US District Court naming more than fifteen opiate manufacturers and distributors across the country for alleged misrepresentation about the addictive properties of opiate medications.
On August 10, 2017, President Trump declared the opiate epidemic a National Emergency.
According to the Center for Disease Control, opiate abuse kills 170 people per day, and the National Institute of Health declared the opiate manufacturers’ “aggressive marketing” as a major cause of the epidemic.
Carbon County is the first county in Wyoming to bring an action in the nation wide opiate litigation that has garnered tremendous attention in the past twenty-four months. Carbon County joins more than 600 counties across the country in a joint effort to bring an end to the opiate epidemic.
Carbon County is represented by Jason Ochs of the Jackson-based Ochs Law Firm. “Carbon County’s leadership is dedicated to bringing an end to this epidemic in their community and beyond. I am hopeful that their leadership and commitment will motivate other counties in Wyoming to join forces in a state-wide effort to bring an end to the worst public health crisis of our time,” said Ochs.
The opiate lawsuits across the country have been consolidated before the Honorable Dan Polster in US District Court in Cleveland, Ohio for workup and discovery. “Once discovery is complete, Carbon County will have the opportunity to have their case decided in Wyoming, by a Wyoming jury,” said Ochs.
According to a recent New York Times article, the top four counties in Wyoming with the greatest number of opiate-related deaths per population, in descending order, are Fremont County, followed by Uinta County, Carbon County and Natrona County.
According to the Wyoming Prescription Drug Abuse Stakeholders website opiates continue to wreak havoc in Wyoming. Public resources, including EMS, law enforcement, family services, morgues and medical costs are all being depleted as a result of the crisis; damages that the lawsuit seeks to recover.
“Unless and until communities stand up against the opiate manufacturers and distributors, the problem will only get worse, and the tax payer will be left footing the enormous societal costs,” said Ochs. “The leadership of Carbon County understands the immediacy and need for action.”