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May 24, 2018

News

Sugarman Rogers represents Braintree in opioid lawsuit

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Patriot Ledger, May 23, 2018

Braintree will join hundreds of communities across the country in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

BRAINTREE − The town is joining hundreds of other communities in lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors for their role in creating the opioid epidemic.

Mayor Joseph Sullivan said the town hopes to recover damages the town has suffered due to the opioid crisis, including the cost of prevention programs, costs incurred by first responders, court and crime-related expenses, physical and emotional damages as well as other related costs.

“This will not solve all of Braintree’s opioid problems nor can it fully repay our community for the immeasurable burdens and tragedies this epidemic has brought to so many of our families and our community as a whole,” Sullivan said. “Instead, this legal action builds upon our fight to combat the opioid crisis against these companies that have long put profit above people.”

The decision was announced at Wednesday night’s meeting of the town’s Community Partnership on Substance Use.

Braintree joins Quincy and more than 600 state and local governments in opioid-related lawsuits. The communities are seeking a national settlement with the pharmaceutical industry like the 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry for $206 billion over a 25-year period.

“We are putting these drug producers on notice that they need to take responsibility for the harm imposed on our community,” Sullivan said.

At Wednesday’s partnership meeting, Braintree Fire Lt. Kevin MacAleese presented statistics on overdose deaths in the town between 2014 and 2017.

During that period, more than 400 overdoses were reported, resulting in 52 deaths, he said.

“You would be surprised by the number of people who don’t know it’s in Braintree,” MacAleese said of the opioid problem. “It’s here. It’s staying.”

Sullivan has retained two law firms to represent the town. Motley Rice LLC of Washington, D.C., is a leader in national opioid litigation and also represents Quincy. The Boston firm of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen P.C. is known for its expertise in mass tort and government law.

The firms will not charge Braintree a fee but will collect a percentage of any settlement or damages the defendants pay, the mayor said.

Sullivan said he conducted extensive research before selecting the firms. He said he is confident that this legal team “will best represent the town’s interests in pursuing recovery against the drug manufacturers and distributors whose deceptive marketing and sales practices fueled the opioid epidemic and continue to cause long-lasting and tragic harm to citizens and financial strain on town resources in Braintree and across the country.”