Florida Hospitals File Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors On the front lines of the opioid crisis, hospitals experience significant financial and operational harm
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (September 18, 2019) – A group of 27 Florida hospitals have filed a civil lawsuit against the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of opioid-based drugs. Florida hospitals have experienced significant financial and operational harm as they’ve fought and treated the complications of addiction on the frontlines of the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Florida hospitals are among hundreds across the U.S. that have filed similar lawsuits.
The complaint, filed in Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, alleges negligence, fraud and civil conspiracy by the defendants, which include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and almost 20 other companies and individuals involved in the manufacturing, distribution and sales of prescription opioids.
The filing alleges the unlawful actions are part of a decades-long practice in which the defendants made false assurances about the addiction risks associated with opioid products and used other deceptive marketing tactics to persuade physicians and other health care providers to broaden their prescribing patterns. The result has been widespread addiction, suffering, and loss of life in communities across the country, with hospitals bearing the financial burden of care and treatment for the victims.
In May 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared the opioid crisis a state public health emergency. Months later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined a public health emergency exists nationwide. But the seeds of the epidemic were sown more than a decade earlier; data compiled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency shows there were more than 5.5 billion prescription pain pills supplied to Florida from 2006 to 2012. In 2018, there were 5,922 drug-related deaths in Florida; of those, 2,733 were opioid-related.
A recently release study from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 13 percent of Floridians lacked health insurance in 2018, compared with a national average of 8.5 percent. Both the state and national figures were up from the prior year.
The filing claims many facilities have also been forced to make capital investments in their facilities to accommodate increased security measures and create new treatment areas for overdose patients and those experiencing acute and chronic diseases that result from opioid abuse.
“No party is better positioned, given the appropriate financial resources, to lead us out of this public health crisis than our hospitals,” said William R. Scherer, founder and managing partner of Conrad & Scherer, L.L.P., representing the Florida hospitals. “They have measurable damages and must be active participants in any opioid settlement discussions.”
Last month the American Hospital Association urged a judge hearing one of the opioid cases “to ensure that needed funds are directed to the hospitals and health systems that are on the forefront of caring for the victims of this epidemic.
With additional resources, hospitals can broaden access to post-overdose treatment in emergency departments, increase training of physicians to treat substance use disorders, cover the costs of lengthy stays and follow-up care for infants with neonatal abstinence disorder, and invest in electronic health information systems to improve coordinated care and prevent overprescribing.”
The case is number #95754861 in Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County.
Coral Gables Hospital Hialeah Hospital Larkin Community Hospital North Shore Medical Center Palmetto General Hospital Delray Medical Center Good Samaritan Medical Center Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center St. Mary’s Medical Center Bayfront Health Tampa General Hospital Venice Regional Bayfront Health Shands Lake Shore Regional Medical Center Shands Live Oak Regional Medical Center Shands Starke Regional Medical Center North Okaloosa Medical Center Santa Rosa Medical Center Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center Lake Wales Medical Center Central Florida Health Lower Keys Medical Center Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center Broward Health Physicians Regional Medical Center Flagler Hospital Halifax Hospital Medical Center
ABOUT CONRAD & SCHERER
Conrad & Scherer, LLP was founded in 1974 by Managing Partner William R. Scherer and began as a small, local law firm comprised of trial attorneys. Today, Conrad & Scherer stands is a preeminent litigation law firm with a national and international reach. The firm maintains offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL, New York, NY, Brevard, NC, and Quito, Ecuador, providing clients a wide range of legal services.
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