A state judge has dismissed a series of lawsuits brought by 37 Connecticut municipalities – including Bridgeport – against Stamford’s Purdue Pharma and other drug companies, saying they had failed to prove their claims against those firms for contributing to the opioid crisis.
“Because they are suing in an ordinary civil lawsuit, their lawsuits can’t survive without proof that the people they are suing directly caused them the financial losses they seek to recoup,” Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher wrote in his decision. “This puts the cities in the same position as the brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and co-workers of addicts who say they have also indirectly suffered losses caused by the opioid crisis. That is to say — under long-established law — they have no claims at all.”
The municipalities would have to separate the opioid costs from such other factors as other drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cuts in state and federal aid, and medical insurance to prove their point, Moukawsher wrote – something he said they “haven’t come close” to doing.
Moukawsher’s ruling does not affect the numerous other lawsuits filed across the country against Purdue, Endo, Janssen and others, including one filed in December by Connecticut’s attorney general.
“We commend the judge for applying the law and concluding that opioid manufacturers cannot be legally responsible to cities for the indirect harms they claim they experienced as a result of the opioid crisis,” Purdue, which manufactures OxyContin, said in a statement. “We remain committed to working collaboratively, bringing meaningful solutions forward to help address this public health challenge.”
Several of the cities, including Bridgeport, are likely to appeal the decision.
“The opioid epidemic continues to cause devastation in Bridgeport, as well as other cities and towns across the state and nation,” Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said. “This devastation is a result of the direct and irresponsible conduct of pharmaceutical companies. We remain committed to fighting for the victims who have been affected, along with their families and friends who also suffer due to the opioid epidemic.”