Washington County Sues Opioid Manufacturers & Distributors

It alleges they aggressively sold these products, knowing they were addictive.


Hagerstown, Md (KM). Another jurisdiction  has joined hundreds of others around the country in suing pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis. The suit charges the defendants with aggressively marketing these products, even though they knew they were addictive.

Hagerstown attorney Bruce Poole is working with the county on this lawsuit. “If you get over to Washington County, you can’t just help but notice the impact opioids have had on the community. For somebody who grew up there, it’s stunning,” he said.

He says the opioid crisis has had an impact on many families in the county.. “In Washington County–and I’m sure Frederick County would have this as well–kids that are entering the school system who were born addicted through no fault of their own but require full time nursing staff,” Poole says. “We have foster care services that are being overwhelmed because of the number of kids that are growing up in households where the parents are addicted.”

All of these costs will be presented in the lawsuit, according to Poole. “We have what are called addiction economists who are working through all the data that we are collecting to determine what our  damages are,”:: he said. “But I’m sure it’s a very large. It’s got to be in the tens of millions to say the least.”

He also says the plaintiffs have not determined a monetary award from this suit. Right now, they want to change some of the behaviors of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. “We’re calling on the manufacturers to be made to completely change their marketing techniques, their relationship with distributors. We’re calling distributors to be made accountable in terms of distributing under what are known as suspicious orders,” says Poole.

As part of the lawsuit, Poole says Washington County has filed a complaint in federal court in Ohio, where these lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors will be  heard. The first trial is expected to take place next year.

Poole says there’s no possibility of a settlement before any of the trials begin. . “Frankly, the people who’ve done this to our country really are pretty hardened. They’ve dug in; they’re in the bunker so to speak. I think we’re going to need some trials and I think we’re going to have to come out with some verdicts before they come to the table,”: he says.

Poole says he’s also representing the Cities of Hagerstown and Cumberland and Allegany County, which have also filed suit.

The City of Frederick and Frederick County filed their own lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors in June.

“It’s as though a dirty bomb has been dropped in the communities of America. And the problem is going to take a good 20-years to clean up and straighten out,” says Poole.


By Kevin McManus