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Sarasota City Commission
Sarasota Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 3 months ago

City Commission approves opioid lawsuit

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The city of Sarasota has selected a team of attorneys to take action against pharmaceutical firms doing business in Florida.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Hoping to recover damages associated with the opioid epidemic, the City Commission voted unanimously to move forward with a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies Feb. 5.

Attorneys with the Sarasota-based law firm Kirk Pinkerton and the Jacksonville-based Abbot Law Group approached the city with the prospect of filing suit as part of a broader effort statewide to take action against drug manufacturers.

After getting the commission’s approval, the legal team announced today its intention to file a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, located in Tampa. In a release, the attorneys said they would file suit against as many as seven major pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

“Their conduct is fraudulent, unlawful and deceptive and municipalities have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to keep up with expenses related to this malfeasance,” said Bill Robertson, an attorney with Kirk Pinkerton, in the release.

On Monday, Robertson and Abbot Law Group attorney Steven Teppler outlined the merits of the case to the commission. Robertson and Teppler said the city would not be responsible for any expenses related to the suit unless the legal team successfully recovers damages.

When the commission asked why the attorneys wanted to file a suit on Sarasota’s behalf, Teppler said the opioid epidemic can be tied to a number of economic injuries that negatively affected the city. 

“The city shares the same problem as every other county and municipality in Florida, as to an opioid problem,” Teppler said. “If the city doesn’t file for compensation, it won’t get any compensation.”

The commission applauded the attorneys’ initiative and expressed hope any damages could be used to fund social programs designed to assist residents affected by opioid-related issues. 

“It’s probably one of the only ways to get these manufacturers to realize that they’ve got to think about what they’re doing,” Vice Mayor Liz Alpert said.

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