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IN THE NEWS: Nitro Votes to Join Class Action Lawsuit against Opioids

By Mara Regling For the Gazette-Mail Mar 20, 2018

Nitro City Council voted Tuesday to join a class-action lawsuit against drug manufacturers as a result of the ongoing opioid crisis.

Rusty Webb, a Charleston attorney, will be representing Nitro and other cities and towns in the area against three distributors of opioid drugs. The lawsuit alleges that AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp. failed to follow state and federal law to prevent the distribution and abuse of prescription pain medication through the state.

“The city now has authority to enter into an agreement with an attorney to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of the city for all the damages that have been caused by the over-manufacturing of opioids and the other drugs that some of our citizens are unfortunately addicted to,” said Johnnie Brown, the city’s attorney. “Basically, the city of Nitro will become a party to those other cities who are already pursuing this class-action lawsuit and they will be handled together.”

Brown said Nitro suffers from an increase in the number of people with addictions that are supported through criminal acts. Brown said he hopes, if this class-action lawsuit is successful, that prescription drugs will begin being distributed responsibly. The lawsuit seeks damages for reimbursement for increased expenses of drug-related crimes, law enforcement training and overtime costs among other expenses.

“What I want out of this lawsuit is for drug companies to be held accountable,” Mayor David Casebolt said. “There was a town that had 9 million pills coming in for 300 residents. Every city fights it and we have a lot of money in this.”

Casebolt said he believes if this lawsuit is successful that it will result in less crime, more responsible citizens and a tremendous difference in the city.

“What we hope to do is prevent more people from becoming addicted,” Casebolt said. “I know we can’t stop it all but they can’t just lay it out like candy.”

Council also announced it has been approached with a proposal for an athletic training complex that would be built behind Nitro High School, on the site of the tennis courts. The proposal included a layout for an athletic complex that would include multiple training areas for football, golf, wrestling and an indoor baseball field for the baseball and softball teams to hold practice.

“This proposal came from some people involved with the high school who want to allow the kids better areas for training,” Casebolt said. “Nitro High School’s baseball coach brought this to me and there are several people involved trying to pull this off.”

Casebolt said that the group of individuals pursuing this possibility would be responsible for raising the funds for it and that money raised for the Greater Nitro Youth Foundation would not be designated for this project.

Council also announced that their budget meeting to discuss and finalize the fiscal year 2018-19 budget will be March 29.

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