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Lorain to sue drug companies over opioid crisis


LORAIN — The city plans to sue pharmaceutical companies, including manufacturers and distributors, for their role in the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who introduced the lawsuit, said the drug problem is “ravaging” local communities and the state.

“We’re seeing the impact of these drugs every day, and you can’t go somewhere without seeing someone who’s been impacted,” he said. “And when it comes to the city, that means police officers and their time, dispatchers and their time, having Narcan in all of the cars. There’s a cost to all of that, and it’s falling on our shoulders.”

Ritenauer said the lawsuit will have no cost to the residents. It was taken on a contingency basis by the law firm of Climaco, Wilcox, Peca and Garofoli, meaning the firm will only get paid if the lawsuit is successful and the drug companies will foot the bill.

After discussing the lawsuit in executive session, City Council unanimously passed legislation allowing it to move forward.

“The fact of the matter is the companies knew these drugs were addictive, and they weren’t truthful about it,” Ritenauer said. “Instead, they downplayed it, and now people are prescribed opioids for pain, and it leads to other things.”

Ritenauer said the lawsuit is similar to one filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine last week, but the lawsuit by the Republican, a likely gubernatorial candidate next year, only focused on manufacturers and didn’t include distributors.

“We felt that was an important piece because they’re part of it,” Ritenauer said.

Dayton Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley also filed suit Monday, saying while cities are starting to fight for financial compensation, it won’t repair the families that have been broken by the epidemic.

“These big drug companies have destroyed too many lives, broken too many families and done so much damage to our communities,” she said in a statement. “People are hooked on drugs, and there are enormous challenges for communities like Dayton. Ever since this crisis was created, our community has been forced to focus our time, attention and your tax dollars on addressing the heroin epidemic.”

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.

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