WALLINGFORD — The town is considering joining other Connecticut municipalities in bringing legal action against opioid manufacturers.
An outside law firm will help the town determine whether it has a viable claim.
“We really feel the town of Wallingford should be part of an effort to correct what is a terrible and tragic situation,” Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Thursday.
Other Connecticut municipalities, like Waterbury, have moved forward with lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and doctors who prescribed the drugs. The suits focus on the marketing of opioids as an effective and non-addictive treatment for chronic pain.
Dickinson and Corporation Counsel Janis Small attended an informational meeting held by Waterbury earlier this year, according to a memo Small wrote to Dickinson and town councilors on Tuesday.
“It is the position of the town attorney and I that this serious matter should be investigated and, if warranted, pursued with legal action,” Small wrote.
The law department has requested the Town Council approve a bid waiver that will let the law department interview different law firms with “expertise in this type of litigation,” Small said. The chosen firm would then analyze different factors and determine the strength of the town’s case.
“We need to know how to put our facts and experience into a form that constitutes a cause of action,” Dickinson said.
“The impact of the epidemic on communities includes increased insurance/healthcare and workers’ compensation costs, increase in emergency room responses and an impact on police departments and the criminal justice system,” Small wrote in her memo.
The Town Council will vote Tuesday whether to approve the bid waiver.
Small said Thursday that Wallingford wouldn’t technically be “joining” other towns pursuing legal action because Wallingford would have a separate suit.
Small said states, counties, and towns around the country have pursued action against drug companies as a result of the opioid epidemic.
Connecticut has risen from 50th to 12th in the nation in opioid deaths in the last three years, according to Small. The general feeling among other Connecticut municipalities, Small said, is “if Washington isn’t going to fix this, then we'll have to.”
Small read the lawsuit Waterbury filed and said the lengths that drug companies went to in misleading the public about opioids are “pure evil.”