Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
San Francisco Opioid Lawsuit Filed

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of San Francisco City and County Against Prescription Opioid Manufacturers

The City Attorney of San Francisco, Dennis Herrera, in conjunction with Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel, has filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco against the major pharmaceutical companies and distributors responsible for the manufacturing, transmission, and sale of dangerous, highly addictive and often lethal prescription opioids such as Oxycontin and fentanyl in San Francisco. The lawsuit alleges these companies orchestrated a widespread fraud in which they made billions by deceptively marketing these drugs to the people of San Francisco while representing the drugs as safe and effective, creating thousands upon thousands of addicts.

Herrera outlined the fraud in a press release which details the depth and range of the fraud, describing the defendants who sold,  advertised, and otherwise promoted these drugs as participating in a “conspiracy and mail and wire fraud to deceptively market opioids as being: (1) rarely, if ever, addictive; (2) safe and effective for the treatment of chronic long-term pain and everyday use; (3) abuse resistant or deterrent; and/or (4) safe and effective for other types of pain for which the drugs were not approved.”

When commenting on “big pharma’s” role in fueling the opioid crisis, San Francisco City Attorney Herrera, stated “these companies and the people who own them put their greed ahead of human lives.. The companies that marketed these drugs manipulated and misrepresented medical science to serve their own agenda. They intentionally misled doctors and patients about the appropriate uses, risks and effectiveness of prescription opioids. Then they and the companies that distributed these drugs looked the other way while flooding communities with dangerous narcotics. Their profits came at a staggering human cost. These drugs are dangerous, highly addictive and only suited for a few narrow purposes. They should not have been in medicine cabinets across the country. Cities like San Francisco have been left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives. Now we are going to ensure that these companies and their owners pay their fair share to fix the problem they created.”

In 2017 more than 72,000 people died in the United States from lethal drug overdoses, with more than three out of five of those deaths involving opioids. It is estimated that at present, someone in the U.S. dies as a result of opioid addiction every 11 minutes.

Expenses from the opioid crisis continue to skyrocket. According to a 2018 report issued by Altarum, a nonprofit health systems consultant, the cost of the United States opioid epidemic is estimated to have exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017. The reports also projects the crisis will cost an additional $500 billion by 2020. San Francisco’s lawsuit seeks to compel the defendants to pay civil penalties, costs, and triple the amount of damages to be proven in court.

Lieff Cabraser’s Work on Opioid Injury Cases

Lieff Cabraser represents numerous cities, counties, and Native American tribes and health organizations in lawsuits seeking justice from the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs for the unprecedented destructive opioid epidemic raging across the U.S. We also serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and the Tribal Committee in the coordinated federal multidistrict opiate litigation.

Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer and as a “Plaintiffs’ Powerhouse” by Law360, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a 70-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, Nashville, and Seattle. Lieff Cabraser has filed similar cases nationwide on behalf of other counties and cities in opioids-related litigation. Our firm has successfully represented tens of thousands of injured individuals in complex and mass tort litigation, and thousands of patients across America in individual lawsuits over the injuries they suffered from defective prescription drugs. Five times in the last seven years, U.S. News and Best Lawyers have named Lieff Cabraser as their “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts.