Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
In Opioid Lawsuits, One State Opts to Stay on the Sidelines
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
June 12, 2019

Share

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson has fought prescription opioid abuse through public education campaigns, worked with lawmakers to tighten up prescribing practices and even demanded documents from the maker of OxyContin. He has said the overdose crisis is ravaging families.

“We as a state have been great and our attorney general has been wonderful in recognizing the opioid problem. It’s really baffling to me why we haven’t joined (the lawsuits).” — Nebraska state Sen. Sara Howard
What Peterson has not done is pursued a lawsuit seeking to hold any opioid manufacturer, distributor or pharmaceutical company accountable. That leaves him standing alone among state attorneys general.
Every other state has sued, filed administrative charges or promised to sue the companies blamed for the national crisis, which played a part in the deaths of more than 390,000 Americans from 2000 through 2017. Peterson’s decision to stand on the sidelines, at least so far, has frustrated some who want to ensure that Nebraska is in line to receive its fair share of money under any national settlement.
“We as a state have been great and our attorney general has been wonderful in recognizing the opioid problem,” said state Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, whose sister died of an overdose in 2009. “It’s really baffling to me why we haven’t joined (the lawsuits).”
Howard sent a letter to Peterson last month urging him to join a group of some 1,500 opioid-related lawsuits from around the country consolidated under a federal judge in Ohio, but said she received no response. She said Nebraska has more work to do and that she would like to see the drug companies pay for treatment and prevention programs.
In a statement, Peterson spokeswoman Suzanne Gage said state lawyers talk regularly with private attorneys and other states that have filed opioid-related lawsuits. Gage would not rule out future legal action, but declined to say why the state has not yet proceeded with a claim of its own.

More Than 2,000 State, Local and Tribal Governments Have Sued

After a flurry of legal filings in recent weeks, 48 states have sued to recover damages they say are caused by the opioid crisis, while Michigan’s attorney general has announced her intention to sue and has solicited bids from outside law firms to handle the case.
Nebraska stands out for another reason. Its opioid-related death rate in 2017 was the lowest of all states, with advocates saying addictions to alcohol and methamphetamine are more pervasive. Even so, tribal and local government officials say opioid abuse has led to a rise in law enforcement and public health costs.
That’s among the reasons that led several of them to file their own lawsuits.
The Ponca Tribe last year sued Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based maker of OxyContin, and other pharmaceutical companies. The state’s other three tribes quickly joined.
“We have a responsibility to make sure we’re protecting the health of our citizens and being proactive wherever we can,” said Larry Wright Jr., the Ponca tribe’s chairman.
Five Nebraska counties — three rural and two in the Omaha area — also filed lawsuits, as did South Sioux City. Douglas County, which includes Omaha, claimed in its January lawsuit that the epidemic has saddled officials “with an enormous economic burden” and led to more crime and children in foster care.
Nationally, more than 2,000 state, local and tribal governments have sued Purdue.
Several Nebraska lawyers involved in the local opioid cases said they were surprised the attorney general’s office hasn’t yet filed a lawsuit to help the state recover the costs of health care, law enforcement and social services.

 

‘Workhorse, Not a Show Horse’

“From a lawyer’s standpoint, it seems to me you’d be in a better position if you have a lawsuit on file and are engaged in the litigation process,” said Ed Hotz, one of the attorneys representing Douglas County. “But maybe the attorney general has his reasons. I’m just not sure what they are.”

“We are joining forces to work together in protecting Nebraskans from the harmful impacts of addiction and the ravages it can cause to families and futures. Nebraskans are not immune from this problem. We all need to work together and do something about it.” — Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson
The go-slow approach is in keeping with how Peterson, a Republican, handles his job. Now in his second term, the former assistant attorney general and deputy county counsel has always billed himself as a “workhorse, not a show horse.”
While he has accepted campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies, including industry giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, state campaign finance records show Peterson has received no money from Purdue Pharma or other major defendants in the opioid lawsuits.
Even without suing, Peterson has taken an active role in trying to address the problems caused by opioid addiction.
Last year, he worked with state lawmakers on new monitoring requirements for prescription drugs and restrictions on how much doctors could prescribe at one time. In 2017, he joined a coalition of 41 attorneys general that issued subpoenas to drugmakers and demanded Purdue to turn over documents. His office helped launch a public awareness campaign that included television and internet ads.
“We are joining forces to work together in protecting Nebraskans from the harmful impacts of addiction and the ravages it can cause to families and futures,” Peterson said at the time. “Nebraskans are not immune from this problem. We all need to work together and do something about it.”

DON'T MISS

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

DON'T MISS

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

DON'T MISS

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

DON'T MISS

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

DON'T MISS

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

DON'T MISS

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

DON'T MISS

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

DON'T MISS

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

DON'T MISS

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

2 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

3 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

3 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

5 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

6 hours ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

6 hours ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

6 hours ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

7 hours ago

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

7 hours ago

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

Sports /

7 hours ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

A bipartisan group looking to undo what Proposition 47 did to California’s legal environment submitted more than 900,000 signatures in...

16 mins ago

16 mins ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

Crypto the WonderDog Show
1 hour ago

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

2 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

2 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

3 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

3 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

5 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

6 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend