Delaware considers suing opioid manufacturers, distributors

This photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (Patrick Sison/AP Photo)

This photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (Patrick Sison/AP Photo)

A national legal team will help Delaware determine what action to take against the opioid industry for contributing to the opioid epidemic in the First State.

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn has retained Fields PLLC, a law firm that’s already filed litigation against the opioid industry on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. Denn said the Fields team will be joined by other firms including Gilbert LLP from Washington, D.C., Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway in Kentucky, and Connolly Gallagher LLP in Delaware. The legal team will investigate the actions of the opioid industry that may have added to the opioid epidemic in the state.

Denn said the goal is simple. “We will make sure that any entities responsible under Delaware law for creating this crisis help us solve it, and that they stop any practices still going on that are contributing to this crisis.”

In April, Fields filed a lawsuit was filed in Cherokee Nation tribal court. It accuses groups like pharmaceutical distributor Cardinal Health, retail pharmacy chain CVS and Wal-Mart of “failing to prevent the flow of illegally prescribed opioids to men, women and children in the Cherokee Nation.”

Denn selected Fields out of 14 bids after posting a request for proposals. “I appreciate the hard work that the selection committee did in finding such an experienced and talented team to pursue these claims against the opioid industry,” Denn said. “This will give us an ideal combination: the ability to act quickly and decisively as an independent state, along with legal expertise and investigative resources necessary to pursue a matter of this magnitude involving companies with enormous resources.”

The Delaware Department of Justice will retain the authority to make decisions about the filing of any litigation and possible settlements.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.