Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 21, 20183min637

Just the other day Hot Sheet took note of an impending lawsuit by Pueblo County — in conjunction with other government entities nationwide — against the pharmaceutical industry that manufacturers much of the opioids being abused across Middle America. The legal premise: The way the industry makes and markets the prescription drugs, though federally regulated, makes it too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands.

We likened the legal foray to the lawsuits by state governments against Big Tobacco back in the ’90s; the states had contended they wanted compensation for the cost to Medicaid and other programs of treating tobacco’s ill-effects.

Now, state and local governments are eyeing another industry — fossil fuels — as they seek to affix blame for climate change. And it looks like Boulder’s about to get on board.

Reports Michael Sandoval of the oil-and-gas-industry-funded Western Wire:

The City of Boulder is considering “potential costs and risk” associated with launching a lawsuit against oil and gas companies, according to documents obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request.

Boulder’s Mayor, Suzanne Jones, asked the City Attorney’s Office for advice on a possible climate change lawsuit against unnamed energy producers.

That advice is now pending while staff researches the idea. Its inspiration comes from that favorite whipping boy of the political right, the Left Coast, writes Sandoval:

In discussions at the November 14 meeting, City Attorney Tom Carr told the council that the lawsuit would be brought by the unnamed law firm on Boulder’s behalf, pro bono, with other Colorado local governments potentially joining as named parties.

Carr outlined a California model.

“That is, suing under a nuisance or negligence theory in state court, which is what they’ve done in California. Not federal court,” Carr said in video of the council meeting.

What are the odds of success? Where there’s a will there’s a way, and in post-modern America, it seems, that way is through the courts.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 9, 20182min690

Remember those lawsuits filed by the states against Big Tobacco back in the ’90s? Well, state and local governments have trained their sights — and their lawyers — on a new, common scourge: opioid abuse. And as with the tobacco industry, there once again are some deep pockets to go after — the pharmaceutical industry that manufacturers the opium derivatives in question.

So, places that have been hit hard by opioid abuse are signing onto litigation, and Pueblo County — arguably, ground zero in Colorado’s epidemic — might get on board.  Reports the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper:

Pueblo County is likely to join Huerfano County and others nationally that are suing the major pharmaceutical companies for damages, arguing the over-prescribing of opioid prescription drugs contributed to the thousands of heroin overdose deaths and other damages from that drug.

“Unless someone can show us strong reasons not to participate, I think we probably will take action and file suit,” Commissioner Terry Hart said … “We have ample evidence in our county of the damage and harm that’s come from overdose deaths and other costs caused by the use of heroin and fentanyl.”

Roper notes:

Huerfano County announced its decision to sue last week and filed a lawsuit in Denver district court that is part of a larger “multi-district” action being handled by Stephen Ochs, a Denver doctor and lawyer who now specializes in suing medical companies.

If the movement gels and gains momentum, look for massive settlements — someday, perhaps — on the scale of the anti-tobacco lawsuits that eventually showered money on the states.