Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 21, 20183min540

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, 20182min560

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.


Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 7, 20183min560

Tickets are still available for the Northern Colorado AIDS Project‘s annual Sowing Seeds of Change reception at Bath Garden Center in Fort Collins.

Tickets are available by clicking here.

The event starts at 6, but at 7:30 p.m., “let your inner diva shine and get your karaoke on!” organizers said. The money helps people in northern Colorado living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and other conditions, as well as programs around prevention.

The second annual reception includes appetizers, desserts and drinks. Guests are told to wear “your favorite gender-affirming cocktail attire.”

“Funding for services for stigmatized populations, like people who inject drugs and people living with HIV, has historically been very difficult to come by,” Rebecca Cranston, NCAP’s executive director, told Colorado Politics in an e-mail. “We have seen a 50 percent increase this year in people injecting drugs; in the past two months, we have enrolled 14 new people living next year into our case management services.

“Even with more nationwide attention on the astronomical increases in injection drug use (and the increase in overdose, spread of infectious disease, and social isolation that comes with it), organizations like NCAP that focus on providing stigma-free services to these populations struggle to meet the evolving and growing needs. Events like Sowing the Seeds of Change help us to continue to provide compassionate services.”

The organization also helps provide a pipeline for people affected by opioid and methamphetamine use, getting them enrolled in care and services. It also now has a team providing behavioral health therapy and case management wraparound services for clients who inject drugs.

In March NCAP will start medication-assisted therapy to help clients wean off drugs.

“Our big audacious goal is that people in our community affected by drug use can receive compassionate care free from stigma, regardless of at what point of the sobriety continuum they are at,” NCAP stated.