Mobile at center of nationwide opioid lawsuit

(image: MGN) Class action lawsuit over opioid crisis

Infirmary Health of Mobile is one of three original plaintiffs in a new federal class action lawsuit that could change how big pharma does business.

Attorneys Don Barrett of Mississippi and Steven Martino of Mobile are part of the team of lawyers involved in a legal battle that could ultimately encompass all 5,000 hospitals in the country.

Right now they represent Infirmary Health, Monroe Co. Healthcare Authority and Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center. and they hope to sign up hospitals across the country to recoup some of the money spent dealing with the opioid crisis.

Barrett says that emergency rooms across the country are filled with overdose patients.

"They're filled with pill seekers. People that come that are desperate and fake illness in order fake injury, fake pain in order to get pills and the hospitals have to deal with them."

The lawsuit claims the country's biggest drug makers and distributors worked together to trick doctors into prescribing more opioids and get around laws designed to prevent that.

"That's what they've done. They've created their own customer base in a way it's like the cigarette crisis. I was one of the original cigarette lawyers back in the 1980s and the 1990s." Barrett says.

Their aim is a legal victory on par with that game-changing tobacco case, where the industry admitted lying about the dangers of its products for decades.

The class action lawsuit seeks billions in restitution accusing big pharma under the "Rico" law designed to take down organized crime like the mafia.

"They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew they were going to hook people. They knew it would kill people. But there were too many billions of dollars to be made."

It's a large and complicated legal case and a long way from completion.

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