BATON ROUGE – Louisiana has joined more than 2,000 other plaintiffs including states, cities and school districts, in opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) currently sitting before a federal judge in Ohio.
Jacques Ambers, special assistant to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, said Landry has been working collaboratively with the governor’s office in its lawsuit against opioid manufacturers but is now redirecting efforts into the MDL.
Ambers said the attorney general’s office is hoping for a fair settlement, but it is too early to predict any particular outcome.
“You’re not trying to kill, completely destroy a business either,” Ambers said. “At the same time, you want something that sends a message to the people and for the state of Louisiana.”
After a dispute with the governor’s office regarding the state’s lawsuit against 17 opioid-producing companies, the attorney general’s office took the lead in the suit in 2018.
The lawsuit was initially filed by Gov. John Bel Edwards office in 2017 through the state Department of Health.
The Advocate reported that the state's lawsuit estimated the crisis has drained nearly $300 million from state coffers annually due to costs involving incarceration, social services, health care, schools and lost productivity.
Meanwhile, state opioid overdoses have been rising, and the Louisiana Department of Health reported there were 401 deaths statewide in 2017, up from 217 in 2014. The parishes with the highest opioid fatality rates in 2017 were Jefferson, with 142, and St. Tammany, with 68.