As San Francisco City Attorney, Louise Renne worked for years to hold the tobacco companies accountable for knowingly promoting deadly products that led to a national health crisis and for perpetrating a fraud on the American people.

Now, Louise and her colleagues at Renne Public Law Group (“RPLG”), along with a consortium of other well-known law firms, including Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, Andrus Anderson LLP, Casey Gerry LLC, Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., and Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, are turning to the opioid crisis on behalf of counties across California. The group is now representing Marin County, Santa Cruz County, Sonoma County, Napa County and Tulare County in bringing affirmative claims against drug manufacturers and distributors to hold them accountable for their unlawful conduct.

For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has heavily promoted the overprescription of powerful painkillers for regular, long-term use and sought to repress scientific studies demonstrating the ills of sustained opioid use, despite knowing that these drugs were extremely addictive. This overprescription has led to a dramatic rise in addiction and drug-related deaths, constituting what the New York Times has dubbed “the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.” In California alone, where thousands of individuals die every year from drug overdoses, local communities face the human consequences every day and are forced to combat this worsening health crisis without adequate funding.

Louise said: “While their products have harmed communities across the State, drug manufacturers and distributors have made billions of dollars. Now, a coalition of law firms including RPLG is working with California communities to fight back to ensure that the drug companies pay their fair share to address the opioid crisis and make the necessary industry-wide reforms to prevent the crisis from spiraling further out of control. These California counties will join numerous cities and counties from around the country that are already seeking damages and industry reform against these companies.”

While some cases have been filed in state court, others have been filed in federal court, where there are more than 400 cases pending in Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”) before the Honorable Dan Aaron Polster of the Northern District of Ohio. See In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. 2804. Judge Polster has already ordered the parties in the MDL to prepare for a global settlement by the end of this year that would provide meaningful solutions to the national opioid crisis and has set the first “bellwether” trial – which will test disputed legal theories and facts – for March 2019 in a case brought by two Ohio counties and the City of Cleveland.

As the opioid MDL progresses, RPLG and its coalition of law firm partners will work to ensure that the California communities they represent have a voice in the MDL and get a fair share of any settlement proceeds to address the opioid crisis at home. They will also demand adequate industry-wide reforms to stop the crisis from inflicting more harm on communities across California.

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