Page 30 - NC Triangle Vol 7 No 6
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LITIGATION SPOTLIGHT
TKATIE KING AND ED GASKINS | PHOTO BY: HEADSHOTS AND CORPORATE.
Gaskins likened the case to the to- bacco litigation where cigarette mak- ers knew the dangers of their prod- ucts but didn’t disclose them to the public. “ ere have been a number of settlements in states where attorney generals have revealed that this was a purposeful and knowing scheme,” said Gaskins.
Some of the opioids were sold un- der the names of Percocet, Dilaudid, and Hydrocodone.
Everett Gaskins Hancock will han- dle claims in North Carolina and is working with  rms in Washington and Chicago who will handle cases nationwide.
PLAINTIFFS ARE ALL OF US
Gaskins has advised people with health insurance policies who have called the  rm’s o ce that they do not have to do anything at this point to be included in the lawsuit.
“Once the class is certi ed, then there are procedures to notify folks that they don’t have to do anything to opt into the class. If there is a settle- ment or judgment, they can submit their information showing that they did pay a health insurance premium during these years and the court will divide the money by a formula to re- imburse those people.”
“Each year, opioid abuse imposes approximately $ 55 billion in health and social costs across the country and approximately $ 20 billion in costs for emergency and in-patient care,” said Katie King, an attorney with the  rm. “ e cost across the board is astronomical.”
“ e class of plainti s is all who have paid increased health insur- ance premiums.  ey’re not addicted.  ey’re not responsible but yet the economic consequences have fallen upon them and it’s not fair that the
manufacturers and distributors keep these billions of dollars in pro ts from their scheme to mislead physicians and the public,” said Gaskins.
TURN OFF THE SPIGOT
“To date, the opioid manufacturers have realized substantial pro ts as a result of the manufacture and distri- bution of opioids, as the Complaint describes. Meanwhile opioids have devastated families and communi- ties. Any one of us knows someone who has been in a car accident or had knee surgery and been prescribed opioids. Too o en, a temporary  x for pain has morphed into addiction. It’s heartbreaking,” said King.
“I see this lawsuit as a vehicle to  - nally impose  nancial responsibility upon opioid manufacturers for what has been a systemic distribution of an addictive substance to the American public.”
“North Carolina has been particu- larly hard hit by the opioid crisis, in part because they’ve been used ex- tensively on people in the military who are stationed or are living here. It’s particularly insensitive to target military veterans who have su ered chronic illnesses while protecting our country.” said Gaskins who is a Viet- nam vet. “For me, this lawsuit is per- sonal.”
“Our goal is to turn o  the spigot of opioids and get back the pro ts made by opioid manufacturers and distribu- tors as a result of the campaign of de- ception described in the complaint.”
EVERETT GASKINS HANCOCK LLP
220 Fayetteville Street, Suite 300 Raleigh, NC 27602
(919) 755-0025
www.eghlaw.com
LAWSUIT: OPIOID COMPANIES DROVE UP HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS
BY BOB FRIEDMAN
he opioid epidemic has driven up health care costs by 4-6 % a year for over 20 years, accord- ing to a lawsuit  led by Ra-
leigh attorney Ed Gaskins, a partner with Everett Gaskins Hancock LLP.
 ose increases have been passed along to the public in the form of higher health insurance premiums, says a lawsuit  led by the  rm in early November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  e blame for the higher premiums is placed squarely on ten opioid-related companies. “ e claim is for all who have paid higher health insurance premiums to recover from the manufacturers and distributors, which have undertaken a campaign of deception,” said Gaskins.
 e average health insurance poli- cyholder could be entitled to recover hundreds or even thousands of dol- lars. Damages could run into the bil- lions for the drug companies and or distributors and could force some into bankruptcy, explained Gaskins.
 e 94-page complaint charges that drug companies knew as early as 1996 that opioids were addictive but inten- tionally misled prescribing doctors to think otherwise. “ e complaint de- scribes how manufacturers and dis- tributors of opioids entered into a mas- sive campaign to convince prescribing physicians and patients that opioids were both e ective and safe for long- term chronic pain use.  e scienti c evidence was to the contrary.”
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