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Madison County Among Five Additional Counties Joining Multi-District Lawsuit

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An Athens law firm is representing another local community joining a multi-district lawsuit.

Madison, Hall, Cook, Irwin, and Walton counties are now joining forces with Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and several others in a wave of lawsuits taking aim at the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. They are being represented by Athens law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley.  Attorney Patrick Garrard says the local governments are trying to recover a wide range of expenses caused by the opioid epidemic.

“They’re seeking costs related to the opioid issues that each county is facing within its community: law enforcement costs, treatment-type costs and hopefully future resources to deal with the epidemic that a lot of our communities are facing in the state," Garrard said.

He says the scope of the problem is greater than many realize.

“You’ve got an increased burden on law enforcement. We’ve had instances within our state where you’ve got people dealing these types of prescription drugs on the street, increased heroin usage, which is kind of a direct result of the use of prescription opioids. In fact, there’s a statistic that 80 percent of new heroin users start with prescription opioid drugs," according to Garrard.

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Credit Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley
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Patrick Garrard

Others involved in the suit are Candler County, The Candler Hospital Authority, Crisp County, Jeff Davis County, and Sumter County.

The firm expects to file similar lawsuits on behalf or more Georgia cities, counties, and hospitals.

The opioids lawsuits target more than 20 companies that manufacture and distribute opioids.

According to the Georgia Prevention Project, Georgia ranks 11th with the most prescription opioid overdoses. From 1999 to 2014 opioid deaths in Georgia increased tenfold. Of the more than 14-hundred people who died of drug overdose in Georgia in 2016, 69% were due to opioids.

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