Fond du Lac County became one of 28 counties across Wisconsin to sue several pharmaceutical giants Tuesday, while Green Lake County nixed moving ahead with a suit of its own a day earlier.
In the wake of a nationwide opioid epidemic, the Fond du Lac County board passed 24-0 a resolution to take legal action against opioid manufacturers at its Tuesday, Oct. 31 meeting.
Law firms representing the 28 Wisconsin counties filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging the companies — including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Endo International — are responsible for marketing campaigns that drove the recent explosion of opioid overdoses.
“And there are more [counties] coming; they just need time to go through the process,” Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel said.
Counties have been encouraged to seek recourse by the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA), which has been represented by one of the firms involved in the lawsuit, Milwaukee-based von Briesen & Roper.
Buechel is the second vice chair of WCA’s board.
“They were the impetus behind [the lawsuits],” he said of WCA. “They were the ones who worked with the attorney firms.”
The Wisconsin counties are joining a growing movement sweeping the nation among municipalities, counties and states aimed at holding drug companies responsible for local costs related to abuse of opioids.