Dillon County joins other counties suing drug companies over opioid crisis

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Dillon County has joined the ranks of Marion and Horry Counties suing drug companies over the growing opioid crisis.

The county has sued Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, LLC, and McKesson Corporation, according to a federal lawsuit.

The suit says "Over the past 5 years, more than 3,000 South Carolinians have died from overdoses of prescription opioids. "

It further states, "Prescription opioid abuse, addiction, morbidity, and mortality are hazards to the public health and safety in Dillon County, South Carolina. The Defendant Wholesale Distributors’ actions are a serious breach of the public trust which has resulted in overdose deaths, and untold expenses and lost revenue for Dillon County. Each Defendant played a significant role in creating what amounts to a pervasive public nuisance plaguing the community, which nuisance remains unabated. These dangerous and addictive drugs were and are diverted, misused, and abused, to the point where citizens of South Carolina, including the residents of Dillon County, have lost their jobs, health and even their lives. Cities, towns and counties, like Dillon County, are left in the wake of this malfeasance to clean up the mess and try to restore order. "

The lawsuit said the addictive drugs have caused, " harm to the neighborhoods, schools, businesses, public utilities of Dillon County in the form of litter, blight, damaged and destroyed public property, among other things, the County has had to step in to enforce codes, clean up streets and neighborhoods, and repair and/or replace damaged and destroyed public property. The number of criminal possession charges for opioid drugs has increased. In addition, the dangerous and addictive drugs have caused increases in other crimes, including crimes related to illegal use of street drugs like heroin and methamphetamines, forcing Dillon County to dispatch police, prosecute cases, and transport suspects to regional jail facilities. This has placed increased budgetary burdens on the County for law enforcement, emergency response services and public safety."

The causes of action for the lawsuit include unfair trade practices, nuisance, negligence and unjust enrichment.

It says as a "direct and proximate result of Defendant Wholesale Distributors’ negligence, recklessness, willfulness, wantonness and gross negligence, as aforesaid, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer devastating consequences as a result of the Defendant Wholesale Distributors’ actions."

The economic damages incurred by Dillon County include, but are not limited to, "money expended on law enforcement, prosecutions, emergency response services, public utilities, nuisance abatement, property damage repair, lost tax revenues, code enforcement, and responding to the tragedy of infants born to drug addicted mothers. "

The suit seeks the following:

A. For an award of actual and compensatory damages pursuant to the First, Second, and Third Causes of Action in an amount to be determined by the jury at the trial of this action;

B. For an award trebling the actual and compensatory damages pursuant to the First Cause of Action;

C. For an award of reasonable attorneys fees pursuant to the First Cause of Action;

D. For an award of punitive damages pursuant to the Second and Third Causes of Action in an amount to be determined by the jury at the trial of this action;

E. For an award of reasonable costs and injunctive relief in furtherance of abatement of the public nuisance created by Defendant Wholesale Distributors pursuant to the Second Cause of Action; F. For disgorgement of profits pursuant to the Fourth Cause of Action; G. For pre and post judgment interest; H. For the costs and disbursements of this action; and I. For such other and further relief as this Honorable Court may deem just and proper.

Dillon County is being represented by attorneys Charles W. Whetstone, Jr., James E. Brogdon, III, Cheryl F. Perkins and John Eric Fulda with Whetstone, Perkins and Fulda, LLC.

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