Joining other jurisdictions in Maryland and other cities across the U.S., the town of Bel Air has filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. The city’s Board of Town Commissioners voted on Monday to file the lawsuit.
The U.S. Justice Department has vowed to support local governments filing hundreds of lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributers of opioid drugs. The lawsuits are part of a broader move to tackle addiction.
The city is seeking damages for the impact of opioid addiction on health and public safety in the community.
According to Bel Air’s resolution, “Opioid abuse, addiction and overdoses are increasing and placing heightened demand for and strain on local services to include, but not limited to, elevated number of citizens’ visits to the nearby hospital emergency room, addiction treatment services, the Bel Air Police Department, and the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.”
The resolution also states that the national lawsuit is being filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors with the hopes of “reducing the availability and over-prescribing of opioid drugs which lead to citizens’ addictions, drug dependency and possibility of overdoses.”
The town hopes to recover some of the costs associated with providing services related to the opioid crisis, but it also hopes that the lawsuits serve as a wakeup call for manufacturers to better regulate their products.
Town Administrator Jesse Bane said if the lawsuits hit the manufacturers and distributors “in their pocket,” they may pay more attention and take action to improve regulation.
In 2017, there were five overdose deaths in Bel Air, and 33 overdoses that were not fatal, according to police.
In Hartford County, there were more than 400 overdoses related to heroin in 2017, and at least 79 of those overdoses resulted in death. The previous year, the county saw 290 heroin-related deaths, and 56 of those were deadly.