La Vergne may sue opioid makers, distributors to recover taxpayer money

(Photo: WKRN)

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The City of La Vergne has hired an attorney to investigate if it can file a lawsuit against several opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The city wants to recover some of the taxpayer money it spent on fighting the opioid crisis.

In a special session held Monday night, the Board of Alderman voted unanimously to retain Mark Chalos with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein to look into how much La Vergne has spent on opioid-related overdoses, crimes, and deaths.

“It’s kind of a trickle down effect,” Mayor Dennis Waldron told News 2. “It affects the whole community. Just because your neighbor overdosed and goes to the hospital, it doesn’t just affect their family.”

La Vergne is the latest city to either explore or file a lawsuit against a variety of opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Chalos is also representing Smith County and Nashville in lawsuits they have filed. He is also working for Rutherford and Cannon Counties.

MORE: Several Tenn. counties join case to recover costs of treating those addicted to opioids

“We are seeing an increase in opioid-related lawsuits,” he told News 2. “The taxpayers have paid their fair share over years to the tune of millions of dollars. It’s about time the manufacturers and distributors who have done wrong pay for the harm they’ve caused.”

Mayor Waldron says the responsibility of drug addiction does not lie with the drug companies alone, but he says it may not be the taxpayer’s job to pay for the issues related to drug addiction.

“When you’re spending taxpayers’ money, you gotta do it wisely,” he said. “Any time we can recover any money, I think the city needs to make an effort to do it.”

Chalos says for years opioid manufacturers and distributors have had a lack of transparency and have been reckless in the way they’ve advertised opioids as being at low risk for addiction.

“We’re learning more and more every day about the bad conduct of drug manufacturers and distributors,” he said. “We’re realizing the impact on the taxpayers, particularly the millions of dollars of taxpayer money that’s been spent to combat the opioid catastrophe.”

After Chalos looks into how much La Vergne has probably spent on the opioid crisis, the city will decide if it wants to sue.

Murfreesboro and Smyrna are also considering similar lawsuits.

Click here to read more about Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.